Scripture 525: Basic Scripture

Author: Fr. William Most

Basic Scripture

By William G. Most,

(c) Copyright, 1997 by William G. Most


The new Universal Catechism is heavily Scriptural, and loaded with teachings of the Fathers of the Church. We are now to begin to make a preliminary exploration of that Scriptural riches. Hence it is good for us to open with a sketch of what the Catechism says about Scripture and Tradition.

1. A desire for God is written into the heart of man: God has made our hearts too large, too demanding, to be filled with anything less than Him.

We begin to know Him and things about Him by reason. The Church teaches, without endorsing any particular set of proofs, that we can by reason alone be certain of His existence. And in seeing the manifold perfections of creatures, we can know that these perfections exist in the highest degree, and without alloy, in Him.

2. Even though we can know Him somewhat by reason, history shows that even the best minds make so many errors in thinking about Him. Hence He graciously has provided us with revelation about Himself. He revealed Himself to our first parents, and right after their sin, He lifted up their hope by the promise of a Redeemer in Genesis 3:15. After the deluge, He made a permanent covenant with all humans. But soon He began to prepare for a fuller revelation, in choosing Abraham and his descendants. But the full revelation of Himself came in His own Son. This does not mean we do not have specific truths about that Son, and about the Father. We do of course.

Christ confided His truths to the Apostles, and commissioned them to teach others. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition come from the one source, God Himself. The Church by teaching and by its worship, perpetuates these truths about Him to every generation.

He gave to us, His people, a wonderful sense to discern what is truly revealed, so that if the whole Church, people as well as authorities, has ever accepted a thing as revealed, that belief cannot be in error. However, the task of giving an authoritative and clear interpretation of the meaning of both Scripture and Tradition He entrusted solely to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Christ.

In fact, it is only through this Church that we can know with certainty which books are inspired and contain His revelation. There are 46 sacred books of the Old Testament, and 27 of the New. The central part of these books is the Gospels, for they speak to us of His Son. These sacred books contain what He willed us to have for our salvation. This does not mean that other points may be in error in them. No, everything that is asserted by the Sacred Writers is asserted by the Holy Spirit. We need the action of that Spirit to fully understand the deposit of faith.

Since the chief Author of all of Scripture is the Holy Spirit, we cannot assume that one part of Scripture will clash with another. The unity of the divine design means that the Old Testament prepared for the New, which fulfills the Old. So, the two testaments shed light one another.

Chapter 1: A Revolution by Vatican II?

Has the Church in our times reversed many teachings about Scripture? This claim is made about the Scriptural Encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu of Pius XII, and still more about Vatican II, which is supposed to have revolutionized theology. The answer is: Definitely no. But we should see the specifics.

We are going to see the chief positive aspects of Scripture study. But first we must clear away some very serious objections.

We begin with Vatican II. The Constitution Dei verbum on Scripture had a stormy history at the Council, and was not finally approved until November 18, 1964.

The peak of the problem came on October 2, 1964, when Cardinal Koenig of Vienna rose and said that there are errors in Scripture in the matter of history. (Cf. A. Grillmeier, in H. Vorgrimler, ed. Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, Herder & Herder, 1969, III, pp. 205-06). Sadly, many Bishops chimed in with him, and there was at least no public correction by Paul VI. Yet, the Holy Spirit was present. Really, considering the atmosphere at Vatican II, our faith in Divine Providence should be stronger, for the final documents left no trace of such unfortunate things (it is only the final texts that are divinely protected: floor speeches and debates are not protected. And the difference was evident at Vatican II, as also at the very first General Council, Nicea, in 325 AD, when about 15 Bishops denied the divinity of Christ).

We will answer every one of the specific cases Cardinal Koenig alleged presently, and also the broader charges made today in New Jerome Biblical Commentary which dares to assert, in reference to Cardinal Koenig's intervention, "pre-voting debates show an awareness of errors in the Bible" (p. 1169, 72:14 - which refers to other statements in 65:50 and 70-71 in the same vein).

But first, let us get the setting from the preface to DV where the Council said: "Following in the footsteps of the Councils of Trent and Vatican I, [this Council] intends to present the true doctrine about divine revelation and its transmission." This of course does not fit at all with an idea of reversal of previous teaching or an acceptance of error in Scripture.

We begin with the specifics from Cardinal Koenig, and then we will meet the broader charges just mentioned. There were three cases given by the Cardinal:

1) In Mark 2:26 we read that David had entered the house of God "under the High Priest Abiathar" and eaten the bread of the Presence. But really, 1 Samuel 21:1 ff. shows that it was not under Abiathar, but under his father Abimelech (Cf. Grillmeier, p. 205).

Reply: The Greek text of Mk 2:26 has epi Abiathar archiereos. Now that Greek preposition epi when used with the genitive case of the person can readily have the generic time meaning, that is, "in the days of... ." (Cf. H. W. Smyth, Greek Grammar for Colleges, American Book Co., NY, 1920, #1689, which reports such usages in various authors, e.g., Thucydides 7. 86). So the phrase really means "in the time of Abiathar". The reason for using Abiathar's name for the time period rather than that of Abimelech was that Abiathar was much more prominent and better known to readers of the Old Testament than his father, because of his close association with David under whom he became chief priest along with Zadok.

2)Matthew 27:9 says that in the fate of Judas, a prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled. Really, said Cardinal Koenig, it was Zechariah 11:12 ff. that was quoted (cf. Grillmeier, p. 205).

Reply: Even the hardly conservative original edition of the New American Bible has a note on this passage which says that Matthew's free quotation of Jeremiah 32:6-15 and Zechariah 11:13 shows that the Evangelist sees the death of Judas "as a divine judgment." Actually it was not unusual at all for the Rabbis to combine texts, and then give the name of the best known of the authors: cf. M. De Tuya, Biblia Comentada, V. Evangelios, 3d ed. Madrid, 1977, p. 441.

3)The Cardinal also charged that in Daniel 1:1 we read that King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in the third year of King Jehoiakim, which the Cardinal says was 607 B. C., whereas the authentic chronicle of the King that has been discovered shows that the siege must have taken place three years earlier (Cf. Grillmeier pp. 205-06).

Reply: If we were reading a modern historical novel about the Civil War, we would expect, and find, besides real history, also some fictional fill-ins. Finding these does not cause us to charge the author with ignorance or deception. No, that is the right way to write such a novel and we, as natives of this culture, know how to take it. There are many other patterns of writing in English, each with as it were, its own rules. But when we move into a very different culture stream, namely, ancient Semitic, it is foolish to think they used the same patterns. By accident they may at times, or may overlap. But we need to check what patterns were actually in use in that ancient culture at that time. Then and then only do we know how to take the various styles of writing. We often call these patterns literary genres. Now in Daniel, all agree there are two patterns or genres. One is apocalyptic - we will see about it later on. The other seems to be the edifying narrative. It contains much fact, but also free use of fill-ins, somewhat like what we know in the modern historical novel. The passages that one might mistakenly think were intended by the writer as our kind of history, are not such: they are the edifying narrative genre. We know for certain that such a genre was in use in the ancient Near East, e.g., in the story of Ahiqar.

Therefore, within such a framework, the author may or may not bother to observe historical precision. What is important is this question: What does he mean to assert? For example in our historical novel he does not assert that the fictional fill-ins really happened. Nor does a writer using the edifying narrative genre assert that all details are historical. In this vein, Pius XII, in his great Divino afflante Spiritu (Enchiridion Biblicum # 559) told us the ancient Semites often used more exaggeration than we do, and also, used mere approximation. No man then would ask his wife to meet him downtown at 4:15 PM. Such accurate time keeping then was out of the question.

But there is a different way, that is better. For there were two ways at that time of dating the first year of a king. In the the year in which a king actually began to reign was counted as his first year, even if he began to reign later in that year. In that system, the first year of Jehoiakim would be 608. This system was in use in Judah at the time (the northern kingdom had used the accession year system, but that kingdom came to an end with the fall of Samaria in 722.).

So any competent Scripture scholar should have known that the objections raised by Cardinal Koenig are all in vain.

We already mentioned that the New Jerome Biblical Commentary charges that Vatican II allows us to think there are all sorts of errors in Scripture: in science, in history, even in religion. Only the things needed for salvation are protected. They appeal to DV # 11 which says: "Since, then, everything that the inspired authors or hagiographers assert should be held as asserted by the Holy Spirit, hence the books of Scripture are to be considered as teaching firmly, faithfully, and without error, that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wanted to be confided to the Sacred Letters."

The writers of NJBC focus on the clause at the end, which we have underlined. They want to say that it means that ONLY things needed for salvation are protected. There may be error in all else.

Reply: NJBC claims the clause is restrictive, which is not impossible, but it is more normally taken as just descriptive. The charge is astounding, showing complete neglect of all normal rules of interpretation:

1) The Council itself adds notes on DV # 11 which refer us to older documents of the Magisterium, which flatly rule out the proposal of NJBC. First, it refers to Vatican I, DS 3006: "The Church holds those [books] as sacred and canonical not merely because they were approved by the Church, after being written by human efforts, nor merely because they contain revelation without error, but because since they were written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and as such, were handed down to the Church." Vatican II works most of this text into DV #11. And Pius XII, in Divino Afflante Spiritu, said the text of Vatican I, was a "solemn definition."

Now it is completely obvious that if God is the principal author, there can be no error of any type whatsoever. NJBC, p. 1169 comments that we now use "an a posteriori approach". An a posteriori approach is contrasted with an a priori approach. When we work a priori, we make a decision in advance, and say what we have just said: since God is the author, there of course can be no error. But the a posteriori approach would instead say: Look at the actual text and see all the errors. Thomas A. Hoffman, in an article in CBQ, July, 1982, pp. 447-69, says Scripture is so full of errors that to try to answer them all would be "basically patching holes on a sinking ship." In fact, he says that would be a lack of faith. We wonder on what that faith is based, if Scripture is so full of errors! He adds that when it is said that Scripture is inspired it means "simply a writing in which they experienced the power, truth etc. of the Spirit of Christ. ." Shades of Calvin, who said we know a book is inspired if the Holy Spirit interiorly tells us so!

In contrast, Pius XII, in Divino afflante Spiritu, cited the words of Vatican I which Vatican II cited, and said (EB # 538): "When certain Catholic authors, contrary to this solemn definition of Catholic doctrine... dared to restrict the truth of Holy Scripture to matters of faith and morals... our predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII, in the Encyclical, Providentissimus Deus... rightly and properly refuted those errors." So Pius XII, in an Encyclical greatly praised by the leftists, called the statement of Vatican I, that God is the Author of Scripture, which Vatican II quoted, a solemn definition. So the NJBC would ask us to think that Vatican II intended to contradict a solemn definition - and even referred us to that definition and quoted it!

Ironically such charges are made today when finally we have the new techniques that allow us to handle successfully charges of error which earlier in this century were insoluble. We will give some presentation of those techniques in this book. For more details, cf. Wm. G. Most, Free From All Error, Prow Books, Libertyville, IL, 2d ed. 1990.

DV # 11 also refers us to other older texts of the Magisterium, with the same general thought. Especially significant are the words of Leo XIII (EB 124):"It is altogether not permitted to either limit inspiration to only some parts of Sacred Scripture, or to say that the sacred author himself was in error. Nor is the method tolerable which, to get out of the difficulties just mentioned, does not hesitate to say that divine inspiration pertains to matters of faith and morals and nothing more... For all the books, the complete books, which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, were written, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Spirit. It is so far from possible that any error could underlie divine inspiration that it of itself not only excludes any error, but excludes and rejects it as necessarily as it is necessary to say that God, the Supreme Truth, is the author of no error at all." A clearer and flatter rejection of the theory of NJBC could hardly be imagined -- yet Vatican II, in the very same passage, DV # 11, refers us to this passage along with others!

2) We notice the words of DV # 11 on genre, for it said -in words underlined in our quotation of the statement - that everything asserted by the human writer is also asserted by the Holy Spirit. When we explained genre briefly in answering Cardinal Koenig, we stressed that word assert. Not everything in a text is asserted by the Holy Spirit or the human writer. For example in the edifying narrative genre, some fill-in details are not asserted. Similarly, in a modern historical novel, the writer asserts that the mainline is history, and that the background descriptions fit the time. But the fill-ins are not asserted to be true. But whatever things are asserted, are asserted by the Holy Spirit, and so are free from every kind of error.

By observing this qualification, we can easily see that no error at all, of any kind, is possible.

With this approach - plus that of form and redaction criticism, which we will see after a bit - things that seem like errors can all be solved. Early in the 20th century, and before, Scripture scholars, both Catholic and Protestant, were well aware of many problems in Scripture, things that seemed like errors or contradictions. They could solve some problems; but many they could not. Yet they were men of faith, and lived and died saying: Even if we cannot find the answer, there must be one. Today thanks to great progress in techniques, we can solve the problems they could not solve. So it is strangely ironic that at the very time when we have the means to solve the formerly insoluble problems, so many today are claiming it is all hopeless. In fact, they say some things are hopeless whose solution was known before, e.g., as to the seeming contradictions in the three accounts of St. Paul's conversion in Acts, it is said that in 9:7 the men with Paul heard the voice, but saw no one, while in 22:9 it says they saw the light but did not hear the voice. The answer is so easy: in Greek, akouein has a broad span of meaning - so does English listen - so it can mean to perceive a sound, or to perceive it and also understand it (cf. John 12. 28-29). Again it is noted that in 26:14 the men all fell to the ground, while in 9:7 it says they stood amazed. One needs no Greek to solve this one: first they fall to the ground, but as soon as they could, scrambled to their feet and stood in amazement.

Our conclusion thus far: Vatican II is not guilty of the charge of contradicting earlier documents.

Chapter 2: What is Inspiration - Which Books are Inspired?

We have just seen a false notion of inspiration as proposed in NJBC. Now we should see what the true doctrine is.

Athenagoras, an apologist of the second century, said the Holy Spirit used the human writer, "as if a flutist breathed into his flute" (Legation for the Christians 9). Not much later, around 181 A. D., St. Theophilus of Antioch wrote (To Autolycus 2. 10): "Moses... or rather, the Word of God, who used him as an instrument, said, 'In the beginning God made heaven and earth. '"

These texts imply that God Himself is the chief Author. A more explicit statement found in the Ancient Statutes of the Church (DS 325: 5th-6th century) says the one who is to be ordained Bishop should be asked, "if he believes that God is the one and same author of the New and Old Testament."

Vatican I (DS 3006) taught: "The Church considers them [the books of Scripture] sacred and canonical, not that they were written by mere human diligence and then approved by her authority, nor only that they contain revelation without error, but because being written with the Holy Spirit inspiring them, they have God as their author, and as such were handed down to the Church herself."

We notice Vatican I was rejecting two theories of inspiration: 1)It is not enough to say the books were produced by mere human labor and then approved by the Church. Then God could not be said to be their author. This was the old error of Sixtus of Siena in the 16th century. 2) Nor is it enough to say Scripture contains no error. That too would not be enough to let us say God is the author. So there is more.

Pius XII in Divino afflante Spiritu (EB 556-- to which a note on DV # 11 refers us) wrote: "The sacred writer in producing the sacred book is the organon, that is, the instrument of the Holy Spirit, an instrument living and endowed with reason... He, working under inspiration, still uses his own faculties and powers in such away that all can easily gather from the book he produces 'the proper character, and as it were, the individual lines and characteristics, '" of the human writer (internal quote is from Benedict XV, Spiritus Paraclitus of 1920, EB 448).

This does not mean that God dictated the words as one would do to a shorthand stenographer. Then the human being could not also be called the author. And what could we do with the words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:14-18? First Paul says he is glad he baptized only Crispus and Gaius. Then he adds - as his memory wakes up in stages - that he also baptized the household of Stephanas. Still further, he adds that he is not sure if he baptized any others. So clearly, this could not fit with a stenographic dictation theory - such a theory was generally given up by the end of the 19th century.

We really have a remarkable picture. God can so employ the human writer as His instrument that the writer will write all that God wills, and do so without any error, but yet retain his own literary style and grammatical ability.

If we ask precisely how this can be, we must take refuge in divine transcendence, that is, we know He is above and beyond all our categories and classifications.

To illustrate we think of the question of how God knows things. We humans know things in either the active or the passive mode. In the passive mode, we receive, we take on an impression from outside, gaining something new. But God cannot be passive, nor can He lack anything. In the active mode: if a blind man is pushing a chair, he knows the chair is moving only because he is pushing it. But we must not make God like a blind man.

Some have wanted even so to say God knows things only by causing them. It is true, He does cause all things. But St. Thomas Aquinas does not limit His manner of knowing to that. Several times over, St. Thomas deals with the problem of how God can know a future free decision, for example, one I will make tomorrow at 10 AM. There are no causes lined up, which will, as it were intersect at 10 AM and cause me to make that decision. Then it would not be free. Further, the decision has not yet been made, and so it is non-existent.

St. Thomas explains (e.g., in Contra gentiles 1. 67; De Veritate 2. 12. c.; and Compendium theologiae 1, 133 # 272) that God's duration is eternity - a life in which there is no change at all. We creatures who live in time see ahead of us a moment we call future - it quickly changes to present - then to past. But since God cannot change, there is no past or future for Him. (Here is another case of transcendence. We say He made the world - a past statement. But to His eternal mind, creation is present. Again, we say Christ will return at the end - but to God, that too is present).

To return to our question. God can know my decision - which is future to me - because eternity makes it present to Him. Viewed as future, it would be non-existent, and so, unknowable. But in the present, it is knowable. However, St. Thomas always stops at precisely this point in making such explanations. He never goes on to say how God knows the thing, once it is present to Him. If St. Thomas really meant that God knows the future decision because He intends to cause it - there would be no need to go into the long explanation about His eternity making the thing present. Thomas would merely say: He knows it because He intends to cause it.

So we again appeal to His transcendence when we say He is the Chief Author, and the human author is a real author too, with his own style, but yet God causes the human to write all that He wills, and to do so without any error whatsoever.

Now that we know what inspiration is in general, it is obvious we need to ask which books are inspired. For in the first centuries there were many so-called Gospels in circulation in addition to the four we recognize, with the names of Apostles on them. So we ask: How can we tell which is which?

We must not start out by saying: Ask the Church. For there could be a vicious circle: believe the Church because the Gospels say so - believe the Gospels because the Church says so.

To avoid such irrationality, we will indeed start with the Gospels, but we will not at the start look on them as inspired. That is something still to be proved. Rather, we look on them at first as merely ancient documents. There is no doubt they are such.

We ask first: has the text come down to us substantially correctly? Textual Criticism deals with this problem. It is especially easy with the Gospels. In the case of pagan works, e.g., Julius Caesar's wars, there is a gap of nearly 1000 years between the copy he wrote or dictated, and the oldest manuscript we have. But for the Gospels the gap is far less. The Sinai and Vatican Codices each date from around 350 A. D. We have others, the Alexandrian Codex and the Codex Bezae from around 400 A. D. We can narrow even this small gap. We have papyri giving parts of the New Testament. The Chester Beatty Papyrus II comes from the early 200s, and includes most of the Epistles of St. Paul. Bodmer Payprus P 75 also comes from around 200, and has parts of Luke and John.

There are major new finds. In the library of Magdalen College, Oxford there are three small fragments of St. Matthew's Gospel. Carsten Thiede by careful paleographic analysis dates them to the 60s AD. (in: , Doubleday, 1996). There is also a smaller fragment found at Qumran that is said to be from Mark.

There are other checks too. The Old Syriac and Old Latin versions go back to at least the late 100s. The Coptic and Sahidic versions come from the early 200s. Besides, the Fathers of the Church were quoting Scripture still earlier.

But really, no scholar at all worries about the accuracy of our texts, for the variations between the manuscripts are mostly trifling. They surely have no effect at all on the six key points we are going to be using soon.

A sad mistake was made by the famous scholar Norman Perrin of the University of Chicago. In his , p.26 he claimed "No ancient texts reflect the attitudes of the modern western world." He clearly had not read much if anything of the ancient historians of Greece and Rome. From 5th century BC. Herodotus (Preface 1) and Thucydides (1.22) and Roman Livy (7.6.6) and Tacitus, 1.1) and numerous others we see that their chief aim was to record facts. They added interpretations more than we do, but there is no harm in that. They also includes speeches, which we do not do. But Thucydides explains he tried to get the actual text or at least he wrote what seemed to fit. Since he so honestly tells us this, we need not be deceived. Modern historians would give Thucydides and Tacitus an "A" for facts (some think Tacitus is rather hard on Tiburius-- which is debated today). Livy and Herodotus would rate a B.

Next we ask what genre of writing the Gospels are. It is evident, they mean to give facts about Jesus, plus interpretations for the sake of faith. This is the sort of writing we would expect, in the Jewish factual tradition.

The objection arises: can we tell the facts from the interpretations? Is there any such thing as an uninterpreted report? The answer is: Many times it is very possible. We need two conditions.

First the item in question should not be entangled with an ancient culture, which might be hard to reconstruct. (Really this is hardly worth a mention, for the Hebrew culture is known so well).

Second, some happenings are such that anyone present could pick up the facts with eyes and ears, with no possibility of damage from bias. For example, a leper stands before Jesus asking to be healed. He says: I will it: be healed. Someone could fake the whole thing, but other than that, there is no room for any effect from bias.

Would someone fake the basic facts about Jesus? Definitely no: the first Christians believed their eternal fate depended on knowing about Him.

Someone will say: Muslims and others die for their beliefs. True, but that proves only sincerity. In addition, we must see whether they have the facts. Muhammed went into a cave, claimed revelations there. But there is no check whatsoever on it.

So we must ask now: could the Evangelists have access to the facts? Very definitely yes: (1)The First Epistle of Clement to Corinth is dated about 95 A. D. The writer says Peter and Paul were of his own generation - that is obvious, for Peter and Paul died around 66 AD. Clement became Pope in either 88 or 92. We would expect he was around to hear them - as were countless others still living later. (2)Quadratus, the earliest Greek apologist, wrote around 123 AD. He says that in his day, some were still alive who had been cured by Jesus or raised from the dead by Him. This need not be as late as 123 of course. But it would surely cover the period 80-90 when leftists think Matthew and Luke wrote (they think Mark wrote a bit before 70). (3)Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis c. 130, and also the Antimarcionite Prologues (late 2nd century) and St. Irenaeus (died c 200) all report Mark wrote from the preaching of Peter. Even Martin Hengel of the University of Tubingen - the source from which so many unsound critical and rationalistic views have come -- believes these reports about Mark. There are still other sources, but let us mention merely this: Jesus died around 30 or 33 AD. A person then in his/her teens would be about 65 by the year 80, the period when some think Matthew and Luke wrote. So there would be some still alive - as Quadratus said - who had heard Jesus in person.

Up to this point we are able to gather this: The Gospels should be able to give us at least a few of the very simple facts - not enmeshed with an ancient culture, and such that there is no room for bias in the report unless there was complete fakery, which their concern for their eternity ruled out. So we look for and find six facts, all of which match this description:

1)There was a man called Jesus. This is obvious from all over the Gospels. We have even pagan evidence. Tacitus, a Roman historian admired by modern critics, comments in connection with Nero's persecution (Annals 15. 44): "The author of this name, Christ, was executed during the reign of Tiberius, by the procurator Pontius Pilate."

2) He claimed He was sent by God, as a sort of messenger. This is evident all over the Gospels. He often demanded belief in Himself as a condition for a cure.

3)He did enough to prove He was such a messenger not just by working miracles, but miracles done in a framework where there is a tie between the miracle and His claim, e.g., when He healed the paralytic let down through the roof to prove He had forgiven the man's sins. As to the miracles themselves - not even His enemies in His own day denied them - they just said He did them by the devil or magic. (Incidentally, His miracles are in continuity with the scientifically checked miracles of Lourdes, many worked when the Blessed Sacrament passed in procession. This implies an abiding, not just a transient Real Presence there - which no other church claims is true).

4)We would expect this item: In the crowds He had a smaller group to whom He spoke more.

5)We would also expect this: He told them to continue His work, His teaching. We cannot imagine God sending a messenger with such power for just one generation.

6)Again, knowing He is a messenger sent from God, and seeing His power so often, we are not surprised when He promises God will protect their teaching: "He who hears you hears me" (Luke 10:16). We notice that although He identifies with the poor as poor, in this case He identifies with His teachers as His teachers. Again: "If he will not hear the Church, let him be to you as a heathen and a publican" (Mt. 18. 17).

Now, after this process, in which we did not appeal to faith at all, we have before us a group - we could call it a Church - commissioned to teach by a messenger sent from God, and promised God's protection on that teaching. Now it is not only intellectually permissible, but mandatory - if we have followed the reasoning - to believe what the group/Church says. It can then tell us which books are inspired, it can tell us that the Messenger is divine; it can tell us there is a Pope, and what authority he has. It can tell us many more things about the Gospels, so we do not have to fight our way through numerous incidents questioned by critics. We have made, with the six simple facts, a bypass around all their worries.

We notice that there is no other way to determine which books are inspired. Luther thought if a book preached justification by faith strongly, it was inspired. But he did not prove that was the standard, and further, he could write such a book, and so could I, and it would not be inspired. John Calvin thought we know which books are inspired by the interior testimony of the Spirit (Institutes I. 7). But that is hopelessly subjective.

Chapter 3: A Revolution by Pius XII?

There is no doubt that the great Scriptural Encyclical of Pius XII, Divino afflante Spiritu, issued in 1943, was and has been a great encouragement and help to Scripture study. But was it a real turn-about, so that Wilfred Harrington was right in saying (The New Guide to Reading and Studying the Bible, Enlarged Edition, Glazier, Wilmington, 1984, p. 32) that "the effect of that document had changed Roman Catholic biblical studies beyond recognition."

A major claim is that it was formerly forbidden to use the approach via literary genres - some prominent scholars had been disciplined for being rather free.

First a word about disciplinary actions - for we must carefully distinguish such decrees from doctrinal decrees. Yes, some scholars did suffer, but the reason was the need for precautions against two things: the new teaching of evolution, and the widespread heresy of Modernism.

When Darwin first proposed evolution, it shook the faith of many, both Catholic and Protestant. For although the Church had never taught a crude or fundamentalistic view of the creation account in Genesis, so many thought it had done so. In the minds of many, there was a tie-in, such that if they accepted evolution, the whole faith would be gone. That never was true, but the fact that people thought so, created a danger. We think of the story of a little boy who came and said: "Mommy, I just found out there is no Santa Claus. And I am going to look into this little Jesus story too!" Today, now that that psychological danger is gone, the Church no longer hinders writings on evolution, as Pope Pius XII explicitly said in Humani generis, in 1950 (DS 3896): "The Magisterium of the Church does not forbid that the theory of evolution... be investigated and discussed by experts in both science and theology... they are rash and go too far who act as if the origin of the human body from preexisting and living matter... were certain and fully proved."

But at first there was the great danger mentioned. Hence there was need of disciplinary action, to protect the faith of the many, until the passage of time would remove the bad psychology. A fundamentalist view would say that God made the world in 6 times 24 hours, that there were only 4000 years before Christ, that God literally made a clay statue and breathed upon it, and similar things. In others words, such people neglect the lesson of literary genres. They do not ask what is the genre of Genesis 1-3. It is actually an ancient story, made up to serve as a vehicle for teaching some things that really happened, chiefly: God made all things, in some special way He made the first pair (we leave room for possible theistic evolution, one that sees the need of God's intervention every time higher being appears), that He gave them some command (we do not know if it was about a fruit tree - that may be stage dressing in the story, something not asserted), that they violated His orders and fell from favor (= lost grace and so did not have it to pass on to their children). Pius XII in the Encyclical Humani generis, in 1950 wrote (DS 3898) that, "the first chapters of Genesis, even though they do not strictly match the pattern of historical writing used by the great Greek and Roman writers of history, or of historians of our times, yet in a certain true sense - which needs further study -do pertain to the genre of history." We have just suggested in what way they do pertain to history, namely, in that they report things that really happened, through the vehicle of a story.

Had the Church once taught a fundamentalistic view? First, to retell the story of Genesis in the same or similar words, does not amount to an interpretation. But further, the Fathers of the first centuries seldom tried to find what the ancient author really meant to say (=asserted). We comment that the words "literal sense" have two meanings, one which we have just indicated, which tries to find what the author meant to assert, taking into account genre, differences of language and culture etc. The other would treat the text as though written by a modern American and ignore genre and all such things. The Fathers instead preferred allegory, in which one thing stands for another. When they did seek the proper literal sense, they often were not at all fundamentalistic. For example, St. Augustine, in his De Genesi ad Litteram 6. 12. 20 (Literal Sense of Genesis) wrote: "That God made man with bodily hands from the clay is an excessively childish thought, so that if Scripture had said this, we should rather believe that the writer used a metaphorical term, than to suppose God is bounded by such lines of limbs as we see in our bodies." St. John Chrysostom made a similar comment on the episode of the creation of Eve from Adam's rib in Genesis 2:21-22. He said, in his Homily on Genesis 22. 21: "See the condescendence [adaptation to human weakness] of divine Scripture, what words it uses because of our weakness. 'And He took', it says, 'one of his ribs.' Do not take what is said in a human way, but understand that the crassness of the words fits human weakness." St. John did not suggest what was the sober way to take the text. A fine suggestion was made by Pope John Paul II in his Audience of November 7, 1979. He said putting Adam to sleep could stand for a return to the moment before creation, so that man might reemerge in his double unity as male and female.

What of the claim that the approach via literary genres had once been forbidden? It is not really true. On June 23, 1905, the Biblical Commission gave a reply: "Can that be accepted as a principle of sound interpretation which holds that some books of Scripture that are considered as historical - partly or totally - do not at times, give history strictly and objectively so called, but instead, have just the appearance of history, so as to convey something other than a strict literal or historical sense of the words?" The reply was: "No, except in the case in which when the sense of the Church does not oppose it, and subject to the judgment of the Church, it is proved by solid arguments that under the appearance and form of history, the sacred author intended to give a parable, an allegory, or a sense differing from the properly literal or historical sense of the words." In the case of evolution, there was danger from a false psychology. In the case of literary genres, there was danger from Modernism, which radically reinterpreted everything, so that Pius X called it the synthesis of all heresies. So the Church needed to be careful while the danger was fresh. Yet even at the start, the reply of the Biblical Commission did not really forbid the use of the genre approach, it merely insisted on careful scholarship, restricting the genre approach to things not against the sense of the Church, and requiring evidence for the genre used.

Later, when the danger seemed to have abated, Pius XII could positively encourage that which the Commission had only gingerly allowed. Even today Vatican II insists on careful scholarship, says that all must be subject to the Magisterium (DV #10) and adds that one must watch for the sense of the Church and "the analogy of faith (DV # 12) - see if a proposal fits with the whole body of teachings of the Church.

In addition, some say that the early decrees of the Pontifical Biblical Commission were mostly reversed: those decrees had said: a) Moses was substantially the author of the Pentateuch (first five books of Old Testament), b) That the early chapters of Genesis were historical, c) That there was only one author for the book of Isaiah, d) That Matthew was the first Gospel, e) That Luke and Acts were written in the 60s, f) That Paul was the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Let us look carefully at the evidence for each point. But let us say at the outset that who was the author of a book of Scripture is not a matter of faith, but of history. Even so, let us look at the claims:

a)Mosaic authorship of Pentateuch: The Biblical Commission said on June 27, 1906 it was permissible to hold "that the work, conceived by [Moses] under divine inspiration, was entrusted to another or to several to be written... and that finally the work done in this way and approved by the same Moses as the leader and inspired author was published." The original (1968) edition of Jerome Biblical Commentary (I. p. 5) said: "Moses is at the heart of the Pentateuch, and can, in accord with the common acceptance of the ancient period, correctly be called its author." The ancient usage in mind is this: rights of authorship were not well respected. Some later person might change or add, and leave it under the name of the original author.

The NJBC has pulled back from this position. It is believed by many that the Pentateuch was put together out of four basic documents: Yahwist, Elohist, Priestly Code, and Deuteronomist - hence the name JEPD for the Documentary Theory. But that Documentary theory is not proved. Joseph Blenkinsopp of Notre Dame in his review of R. N. Whybray, The Making of the Pentateuch (Journal For Study of Old Testament Supplement 5. Sheffield, 1987) wrote (CBQ Jan. 1989, pp. 138-39): "It is widely known by now that the documentary hypothesis is in serious trouble, with no viable alternative yet in sight." He continues saying that Whybray has easily shown the fragility of many of the arguments given for the theory, sometimes requiring an unreasonable level of consistency within the sources, at other times not. Further, Newsweek of Sept. 28, 1981, p. 59 reported that Yehuda Radday, coordinator of the Technion Institute in Israel, fed the Hebrew text of Genesis into a computer, and concluded: "It is most probable that the book of Genesis was written by one person."

So we cannot be sure Moses was not the author of the Pentateuch in the ancient sense.

b)Historical nature of the first chapters of Genesis: We already cited Pius XII saying that in some way the first eleven chapters pertain to history, even though not a history of the type written by the great Greek and Roman writers, or by modern writers. We take this to mean that the literary genre is such that by the vehicle of a story, things that really happened substantially are conveyed. We add now that the theory of evolution is far from proved even today. The Research News section of Science, November 21, 1980 gives a long report on a conference held at the Field Museum in Chicago, of geologists, paleontologists, ecologists, population geneticists, embryologists, and molecular biologists. The majority of the 160 participants decided Darwin was wrong, in the sense that the fossil record does not show the intermediate forms Darwin supposed. So they - still not willing to abandon evolution - thought up a new theory of "punctuated equilibria" according to which a species might stay the same for millions of years, and then by some fluke, a much higher form, in the same type, would appear. If they had evidence that this actually happened, the research report did not mention it. The closest one could find to that would be the Grand Canyon, in which there are high vertical layers exposed, with simple organisms such as Trilobites down below, more and more complex things as one goes higher. But there was no proof that any of the higher ones simply came from the lower. It would take great faith - without basis -to suppose that. If one uses the mathematics of factorials to calculate the chances of such a fluke, the odds against it are enormous.

c)One Isaiah: It is now common to say that the Book of Isaiah had two or even three authors. The reasons given are these: first Isaiah threatens disaster, second Isaiah is addressed to exiles in Babylon; Jerusalem has been deserted. Second Isaiah mentions the dynasty of David, but transfers its privileges to the whole people (55:3-5). In Third Isaiah, Israel is back again in her own land and the problems spoken of in chapters 1-39 are no longer present. Similarly, the tone varies in the three parts - from threats - to sorrow - to consolation.

It is quite possible that there were three authors, for this is a problem of history, not of faith. However, the arguments given are inadequate. One Isaiah could have been given a prophetic vision to see the exile and the return. Really, the Deuteronomic pattern (threat, punishment, rescue) alone would suggest that, for it too moved from threat to punishment, to restoration. One wonders: was this theory of several authors originally motivated by the conviction that there can be no real prophecies?

d)Matthew's Priority: For long most scholars have held that Mark wrote first. That consensus is now weakening, several major works have called it into doubt. For example: W. R. Farmer, The Synoptic Problem (Dillsboro, 1976); Bernard Orchard: Matthew, Luke and Mark, (Manchester, 1977); E. P. Sanders, The Tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition (Cambridge, 1969); John M. Rist, On the Independence of Matthew and Mark (Cambridge, 1978); Hans- Herbert Stoldt, History and Criticism of the Marcan Hypothesis (Edinburgh, 1980). The ancient witnesses put Matthew first. However, they were thinking of the Hebrew Matthew. We do not know the relation of our Greek Matthew to the Hebrew. In any case, it is a respectable opinion today, gaining in support, to deny that Mark wrote first.

The reasons for putting Mark first are not solid. They say that the prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem, is not as clear, chiefly in 13:14, as it might have been. So Mark wrote before 70. But then they think that Matthew and Luke used Mark - since there is so much material similar in all three at many points: but this does not prove which of the three wrote first. Further, they say, Matthew and Luke are rather clear about the fall of Jerusalem, and so must have written after it happened. Luke even speaks of an army surrounding Jerusalem.

The reasoning is very weak. In ancient sieges, an army always surrounded a city. As to Matthew, he is clearly so fond of reporting fulfillments of prophecies, he could hardly have refrained from mentioning the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus about that fall if he had written after it happened.

There is also the claim that Matthew seems not to know the debate which St. Paul had with the Judaizers, in which he insisted we are free from the law, while Jesus said (Mt. 5:17) that He came not to destroy but to fulfill. But there is a good explanation. First, Matthew had a different purpose from Paul's. Secondly, if we get the setting, we will see how it all happened. Some Judaizers said that Christ is not enough - one must also keep the law. Paul naturally replied that Christ is sufficient, we need not keep the law. But he also made clear to all but Luther that if one violates the law he is lost: 1 Cor 6. 9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Rom 3:31; Eph 5:5. Luther did not know what Paul meant by the word faith, and thought it meant just the conviction that the merits of Christ count for him ("taking Christ as personal Savior"). After that, as Luther wrote to Melanchthon in Epistle 501: "Even if you sin greatly believe more greatly." The volume, Justification by Faith. Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VII, eds. H. G. Anderson, T. A. Murphy, J. A. Burgess (Augsburg, Minneapolis, 1985) ## 24 & 29 admits that poor Luther was scrupulous, he thought he was in mortal sin all or most of the time. He found peace only by thinking it made no difference if he did sin mortally. He could be all right if he just had faith that Christ had paid for his sins. But St. Paul meant something quite different by faith, as even the Protestant Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplement, p. 333 admits. If God speaks a truth, faith will believe mentally; if God makes a promise, faith will have confidence; if God gives an order, faith will obey (cf. "obedience of faith: Rom 1:5). All of this is to be done in love. Now, how could faith dispense one from obedience, as Luther thought, when obedience is an essential element of faith!

Briefly, Jesus said we must become like little children to enter heaven. Paul said if we break the law we will not inherit. We inherit as children of our Father and coheirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). So Jesus and Paul taught the same. For one who believes in the fact that the same Holy Spirit is the chief author of all books of Scripture, no difficulty at all could arise.

e)Luke and Acts written in the 60s: Objectors also claim Luke must have written late, and did not know Paul because St. Paul, who was supposed to be present at the Council of Apostles in Jerusalem, according to Acts 15, seemed not to know of its decree, found in Acts 15:28-29 which said people were free from the Mosaic law, but yet asked them to do a few things, including abstention from food sacrificed to idols. Yet Paul in 1 Cor. chapter 8 said they could eat such meat, unless there would be scandal. But the answer is simple: If the Vatican today sends an order to the Bishops of some one area, it holds only in that area, not outside it. So Paul did preach the decree within the area to which it was sent, Syria and Cilicia (cf. Acts 16:4. For more details on the agreement of Acts and Paul's Epistles, cf. Wm. G. Most, Free From All Error, Libertyville, Il, 1990, chapter 18).

f)Paul as author of the Epistle to the Hebrews: There were considerable doubts about Pauline authorship even in the first centuries. It as about the 4th century before the West accepted it, though the East did so earlier. The June 24, 1914 reply of the Biblical Commission asked (EB 418) whether it was necessary to say that Paul gave it its present form. The answer was, "No. subject to further judgment of the Church." The first two parts of the same reply spoke more strongly in favor of Paul's authorship, so that the third only said we are not sure Paul gave it its present form.

The chief difficulty against Pauline authorship is the style. But anyone who has ever read Tacitus' historical works in the original Latin, and has also compared them with his Dialogue on Orators will never be moved much by stylistic differences. The style of Tacitus in his historical works is highly distinctive, even pungent. It is day and night different from that of the Dialogue. Yet other arguments have convinced practically all scholars that it really is by Tacitus.

It is easy enough to conclude that while the Encyclical of Pius XII was a real impetus it was not a revolution, and surely did not reverse any previous doctrinal positions. We add that it encouraged translations from the original languages. There had been a misunderstanding from the fact that the Council of Trent had declared the Vulgate "authentic". It meant merely that it was a proper base for religious discussion. It did not mean to forbid translations from the original.

Chapter 4: Using the Genre Approach to defend Inerrancy

We already saw, in answering Cardinal Koenig's charges, an example of this use of the genre approach. It is highly likely that the narrative parts of Daniel were meant as the edifying narrative pattern. There is apt to be a core of history, but along with it go some rather free additions. Again, the key word is assert or claim. The writer does not assert or claim he is writing pure history. Part of it will fit with history, but he does not assert that the fill-ins are historical.

In using the literary genre technique we are not being unfaithful to Scripture. Rather, we are being completely faithful, and using a great means to defend Scripture against attacks. For it is clear that we should try to find out what the inspired writer really meant to say. To find that, we must ask: What did he mean to assert? To ignore that is to impose our own ideas on Scripture. That is being very unfaithful.

So the poor misguided Fundamentalists think they are respecting the sacred text, but actually they are not. They are imposing their own ideas on Scripture.

Genesis 1-11: When we looked at the first eleven chapters of Genesis we said the genre was that of an ancient story, which still conveys things that really happened. Pope John Paul II, in his series of audiences on Genesis, on November 7, 1979 called this narrative "myth". He explained: "The term myth does not designate fabulous content, but merely an archaic way of expressing deeper content." So we need not say God created in 6 times 24 hours. Still less need we say creation was 4000 years before Christ. That number was reached by adding up ages of patriarchs and others. Centuries ago, St. Augustine knew better. In his City of God 15.7 he noticed that Cain was said to have built a city, and named it for his son Enoch, at the time when Genesis listed only about three men alive. He replied that the purpose of the sacred writer was not to mention all humans, but only enough to show the line of descent of the two cities.

Exodus: The books that describe the departure from Egypt and the wandering in the desert very probably use something like an epic genre. That genre tells of the great beginnings of a people. The story is basically history, yet has some fill-ins which are a bit fictional, which the writer does not assert really happened. But in spite of this, it is clear that there was an exodus, and not just a revolt of peasants in Canaan who never left there. The story of a great people beginning in slavery is not likely to be invented.

But there are new discoveries. It is now certain that Sinai was in Midian--when Moses had to flee Egypt he went to Midian, married the daughter of a priest of Midian, and while watching sheep there saw the burning bush. Wyatt Archeological Research, Presentation of Discoveries went to the real Sinai, photographed the top of Sinai where the top rocks are still blackened from the fire at the time of the Ten Commandments. They also found and photographed the twelve pillars erected by Moses at the site. There are more remarkable things in this video (More controversial: at the start of the video we see the discovery by using radar that penetrates soil, of a large boat, right dimensions for the ark. The problem is that a high Pentagon officer told me he had been permitted to see the photos made by a U.S. satellite from space, on which the ark is in the open, partly covered with snow, farther up on Mt. Ararat). Also Larry Williams, in (Wynwood Press, NYC, 1990) visited the site of Mt. Sinai in Midian and photographed the blackened top of Sinai and saw the twelve pillars of Moses. He also engaged the services of George Stevens of Horizon Research who was able to study the photos taken by the French satellite with infrared. He was able to see the precise spot where Israel crossed the Gulf of Aqabah, and to trace other parts of their movements in the area. (Further comments below in chapter 10).

Joshua vs Judges: These two books seem to contrast. Joshua tells of a great triumphant sweep of conquest; Judges gives a lower key picture of much struggle. The answer lies in the genres: Joshua is part of the epic style; Judges is a more sober narrative on the whole.

Jonah: Another fascinating example is in the book of Jonah. God ordered Jonah to preach to Nineveh that He intended to destroy it - of course, if they did not repent. Jonah feared God would actually not destroy it, and thought that then he would seem to be a false prophet. So he boarded a ship headed out into the Mediterranean. Soon a great storm arose. The crew threw overboard much of the cargo to lighten the ship. But the danger was still great. Then one of the sailors remembered that Jonah when coming on board had said he was running away from his God. So the sailors came to Jonah and questioned him. Jonah replied that yes, he was the cause. So they should throw him overboard, and then the storm would cease. They did so, and the storm stopped. But a large fish - a whale? - swallowed Jonah, but threw him up on the shore on the third day. Then Jonah decided he had to preach to Nineveh. They all did penance at once in sackcloth and ashes. So God did not destroy the city.

What did the sacred writer intend - to write history, or a sort of extended parable? There are difficulties against an historical view. The matter of the fish swallowing Jonah is not too difficult. In February 1891 the ship Star of the East caught an 80 foot sperm whale. But a seaman, James Bartley was missing. After a search, he was presumed drowned. Yet the next day when the whale was being cut up, they found Bartley inside, still quite alive. (Cf. Wallechinsky & Wallace, People's Almanac, Garden City, NY (Doubleday, 1975, p. 1339).

Another inconclusive objection comes from the language of the text. It has some words that are later than the supposed date. But we know that the Jews sometimes deliberately updated the language of the ancient texts. So the objection is not strong.

But there are more serious difficulties: Jonah 3:3 says, "Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth." The remains found there do not show a city that size. A. Parrott (Nineveh and the Old Testament, New York, Philosophical Library, 1971, pp. 85-86) suggests perhaps Nineveh could have referred to a 26 mile string of settlements in the Assyrian triangle. Or else, since people gathered at the city gates, Jonah would speak there. And since there were many gates there, and Jonah would talk much at each, it could have taken three days.

On the other hand, no matter what the genre of the book, it surely does teach two major lessons. First, the Assyrians then were considered the world's worst people, because of their deliberate terrorism in war. Yet God showed concern for them. So He must love everyone. Second - and this is not complimentary to us - when prophets went to the original people of God, they had a hard time, suffered much. But the pagan Nineveh welcomes Jonah readily. The Jews knew this: In the late 4th century Midrash, Mekilta de Rabbi Ishmael (tr. Jacob Lauterbach, Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, I. p. 7) we read words imagined as said by Jonah: "Since the Gentiles are more inclined to repent, I might be causing Israel to be condemned [by going to Nineveh]."

In Jonah 4:11 God says there are more than 120, 000 people who do not know their right hand from their left. If one takes the expression to mean babies, it would imply a huge populace. But it could merely mean they did not know the basics of religion. Jonah 3:6 speaks of the king of Nineveh - not the usual Assyrian expression. He was called king of Ashur. But Jonah might not have used the Assyrian way of speaking. However, we do not know of a king living in Nineveh at the time supposed in the story. Nineveh became the capital under Sennacherib (704 - 681).

It may be objected that Jesus Himself referred to Jonah, and said He was greater than Jonah. But to refer to a well-known story does not amount to asserting the story happened. We could quote Alice in Wonderland to illustrate things, and not think that tale was historical. Actually, this literary use occurs elsewhere in the New Testament, e.g., in 1 Cor 10:4 and Jude 9.

Apocalyptic: Besides the narrative parts of the book of Daniel, there are parts in the apocalyptic genre. This genre first appeared in full-blown form about 2 centuries before Christ, had a run of three or four centuries. In it the author describes visions and revelations - not usually clear if he means to assert he had them, or is just using the account as a way of making his points. There are highly colored, bizarre images, secret messages. The original readers knew better than to take these things as if they were sober accounts. (Sadly, some today have taken some of the apocalyptic images about streams of fire etc. as proof there were ancient astronauts who overawed the simple people of the Hebrews. That was foolish, for we must recognize the genre). For a very strong example of apocalyptic, please read Daniel chapter 7.

Touches of Apocalyptic: Now it happens at times that a writer will use some touches of apocalyptic in a work that is on the whole of a different genre. Thus Isaiah 13:10 includes some definitely apocalyptic language in speaking of the fall of Babylon: "For the stars of the sky and their constellations will not show their light, the sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not give its light." In foretelling the judgment on Edom, Isaiah 34:4 said: "All the stars will be dissolved, the sky will roll up like a scroll and all the host of the skies will fall, like withering leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from their tree." Ezekiel 32:7-8 uses much the same language to prophesy the judgment on Egypt: "When I blot you out, I will cover the skies and will darken their stars. I will cover the sun in a cloud and the moon will not give its light." We cannot help thinking of the language of Matthew 24:4. So we gather that while God surely could make such signs happen at the face value of the text, yet we cannot be sure that He intends to do it: the language of Isaiah and Ezekiel shows such expressions can be merely apocalyptic.

The "rapture": This brings us to the question of "the rapture". St. Paul in First Thessalonians 4. 13-17 is answering the concern of the people there: Would it not be too bad if we should die before the return of Christ - then the others would get to see Him before we would. Paul replies that it will be as follows: Christ will descend from the sky with a blast of a trumpet. Then the dead in Christ will rise, and after that, "we the living" will be taken to meet Christ in the air. Many fundamentalists say that this event must be different from the last judgment scene which we find in Matthew 25:21-46 in which Christ the Judge is seated on the earth, and has before Him the sheep and the goats. The fundamentalists say: the scene in First Thessalonians takes place in the air - the scene of the last judgment takes place on the earth. So there must be two separate events. So there is a separate rapture, when Christ will suddenly snatch out all good people from this world, leaving only the evil. The good will then reign with Him for 1000 years before the end.

The trouble is that they have neglected the genre, as usual. Both passages are clearly using some apocalyptic language. For in the judgment, all persons of all ages of the world must stand before Christ. The whole globe would not give standing room for that. So it must mean some sort of spiritual revelation of the just judgments of God at the final resurrection. In apocalyptic, we do not make close comparisons, for the whole is loose.

So the bumper sticker is wrong, which said: "In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned," and will crash into others. But no problem, only the bad people are left!

Just incidentally, many who are not fundamentalist err in thinking that the words "we the living", which come twice, show that Paul must have expected to be alive at the end. So they reject his authorship of Second Thessalonians, in which he very clearly shows he does not expect that. They do that contrary to all the ancient witnesses who say both are by Paul. They reject his authorship for the sake of an expression which is at most, ambiguous. Really, many teachers will often say I or we to make something vivid, without intending to give any information about themselves at all.

Wisdom literature: This genre is one the Hebrews had in common with other ancient near Eastern peoples. With most peoples it is basically a group of worldly wise counsels, especially for the young, on how to get along in this life. Egypt was specially famed for it, and the Jews may well have gotten ideas in their long stay there. The Egyptian Wisdom of Amenemopet has many parallels to the Old Testament. For example, Proverbs 22:17-18 says: "Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply you mind to my knowledge; for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips." Amenemopet says: "Give thy ears. Hear what is said, give thy heart to understand them. To put them in thy heart is worthwhile (from ANET 421). Many texts of Proverbs and Amenemopet are given in parallel columns in J. Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past, 2d ed. Princeton Univ. Press, 1974, pp. 124-25.).

We must keep in mind in reading the wisdom literature that only some things are meant as religious principles. Clement of Alexandria, head of the catechetical school at Alexandria in late 2nd century, tried to set up a counter attraction to the snob appeal of Gnosticism. So in books II and III of his Paidagogos, he tried for a deeper knowledge of the rules of morality, and gave very detailed rules for how a Christian should do everything: eat, drink, sleep, dress, use sex, and so on. He sometimes supports his injunctions from Scripture. He quotes Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 32:3 & 7, without understanding the genre: In Paidagogos 2. 7. 58: "I believe that one should limit his speech [at a banquet]. The limit should be just to reply to questions, even when we can speak. In a woman, silence is a virtue, an adornment free of danger in the young. Only for honored old age is speech good: 'Speak, old man, at a banquet, for it is proper for you... Speak [young man], if there is need of you, do it scarcely when asked twice."

Variant Traditions: There is another kind of seeming error that we can solve by the use of genre and determining what is asserted.

In Exodus 14:21-25 we find: "Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right and on their left."

We notice two different explanations: 1) a wind sent by God dried up the sea, 2) the water was like a wall on both sides of them. Clearly these two pictures do not fit. A sea dried up by the wind would be just shallow water - and after the drying, there would be no wall of water on left and right.

But we ask: What did the inspired writer really mean to assert? Let us picture him sitting down to write. He has on hand two sources - written or oral - and they do not fit. He has no means of knowing which is the right one. He decides: "I will let the reader see both." But that means he does not assert both. That cannot be done. What he does assert it this: I found two accounts, and do not know which is it. Here they are.

Another similar case concerns how David came to meet and know King Saul. In Chapter 16 of First Samuel, Saul is upset. He asks his servants to find a man skilled at playing a harp to soothe him. They bring David (16:18) "son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skilled in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech. "So David enters his service, and becomes armor- bearer to Saul. Saul sends word to David's father saying he wants David to stay in his service.

But in chapter 17 the picture is very different. David is feeding his father's sheep. One day his father sent him to bring food to his brothers who were in the army of Saul. David hears of the giant Goliath, and the great reward the king offers to one who will kill Goliath. So David goes to Saul, boasts of having killed lions and bears, offers to fight Goliath. Saul gives David armor, but David is not used to wearing armor, and discards it. So he gets some stones from the brook and a sling, and kills Goliath.

In chapter 16 (verse 18), David is called a mighty fighter, a gibbor. But in chapter 17, after David has killed Goliath, Saul asks his captain Abner who that is. Abner says he does not know (though in chapter 16 David has previously been in the service of Saul). Abner takes David to Saul, holding the head of Goliath. Saul asks who he is.

Clearly, the two accounts do not fit together. But we ask again: What did the inspired writer mean to assert? He meant to assert only: I found these two, and do not know which is right. But you can see both of them. He asserts no more than that.

Poetic Genre: In any culture, poetry is apt to use fanciful images and exaggerations. Scriptural poetry does the same. But if one does not recognize that a passage is poetic, mistakes can result.

St. Justin Martyr, in Second Apology 5, shows he believes angels have bodies. We do not blame lack of knowledge of genre for this: there was much hesitation in the patristic age on angels. But in Dialogue with Trypho 57 he says that angels have food in heaven since, "Scripture says that they [the Hebrews in the desert] ate angels' food." Justin does not understand Psalm 78:24 which speaks of bread from heaven, referring to the manna in the desert.

Isaiah 40:2 says Israel has received double for all her sins. Now of course God would not punish twice as much as what was due: We need to recognize Isaiah is a lofty poet, and/or take this as Semitic exaggeration.

Psalm 124. 3 has God saying: "All of them have turned, together they have gone astray. There is no one doing good, not one". One might imagine this could apply only to people of the time of composition, but St. Paul in Romans 3.10 cites it as meaning everyone. Again, we need to recall this is poetry. Paul had a different reason for citing it. He was out to prove that if one tries for justification by keeping the law, all are hopeless. To understand this, we need to know St. Paul at times uses a sort of focused view in which as it were he would say: The Law makes heavy demands, but gives no strength. To be under heavy demands without strength of course means a fall. In the focused view (a metaphor, as if one we were looking through a tube, and could see only what is framed by the circle of the tube) one does not see the whole horizon. Off to the side, in no relation to the law, divine help was available even before Christ. If one uses it, then the result is quite different. (More on focusing later on).

Isaiah 64:5 said: "All the deeds we do for justification are like filthy rags." Some, not seeing the poetic nature of the passage, thought all our good deeds are sinful. It is true, there is imperfection in most good things we do. Yet not everything is a mortal sin. St. Paul says in Philippians 3:6 that before his conversion he kept the law perfectly. Luke 1:6 says the parents of John the Baptist were keeping all the commandments without blame. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 looks forward to a merited crown from the Just Judge.

Chapter 5: How to Interpret Inspired Scripture

We saw from our sketch of how to find which books are inspired that it is the Church alone that can tell us. We commented too that we really would expect that a messenger sent from God, with such a mission and such powers as He displayed, would arrange to protect the teachings of those He sent out. He did it, e.g. ,"He who hears you hears me."

Some today are claiming that in order to find the truth, they must be free of any outside authority - including the Church. What impossible folly! They discard the very prime means of gaining the most absolute certitude of the truth, including the meaning of Scripture. They also claim "Academic Freedom." Really, it belongs only to a properly qualified professor teaching in his own field. Now among the things needed to be properly qualified is, of course, that the professor know and use the method that is correct in his field, as called for by the very nature of the material. Theology starts with the sources of revelation - Scripture and Tradition - but when something appears in them that is not obvious in meaning: How does he decide? If he is Catholic, the final word comes from the teachings of the divinely protected Church. Vatican II, in spite of misrepresentations of its teachings, did say in DV #10: "The task of authoritatively interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on [Scripture or Tradition], has been entrusted exclusively [underline added] to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." We notice the Council appeals to precisely the same thing as we did in our sketch of apologetics, namely the authority given by the Divine Messenger, Jesus Christ.

Therefore, any professor who would not use the proper Catholic method is not a Catholic theologian and as such, has no claim at all to academic freedom. Imagine a professor of natural science who wanted to go back to the poor medieval methods of science. He would be laughed off the campus, not protected by academic freedom. He would be called a quack, and deserve it.

That same Magisterium has given us excellent guidelines, especially in DV ## 11-12. We already saw the chief material from DV #11.

Now for #12, which opens saying: "Since however in Sacred Scripture, God has spoken through men in human fashion, the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, to see what He intended to communicate with us, must investigate attentively what the sacred writer really intended to convey, and what it pleased God to manifest by their words." We underlined the word and because of its special importance. Some have argued that since two things are mentioned, namely, what the human writer meant to convey, and what it pleased God to manifest, therefore the text indicates that God might intend to say more than what the human writer saw. (This is the theory of the "fuller sense", sensus plenior). The Theological Commission at Vatican II (cf. Grillmeier, p. 220) reported that if the text had used the connector que instead of et, the Council would have settled the question in the affirmative, meaning: Yes, there is a fuller sense. (The connector -que is much closer than et. Both mean and).

Even though the Council at that point did not see fit to explicitly affirm the fuller sense, yet the Council itself, in LG # 55 actually used it: "These primeval documents [thinking chiefly of Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14], as they are read in the Church, and are understood in the light of later and full revelation, gradually bring before us the figure of the woman, the Mother of the Redeemer. She, in this light, is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise, given to our first parents when they had fallen into sin, of victory over the serpent (cf. Gen 3, 25). Similarly, she is the Virgin who will conceive who will conceive and bear a Son whose name will be called Emmanuel (cf. Is 7, 14)."

It is clear that the Council did not want to say flatly that the human writer of Genesis and Isaiah saw all that the Church now, after fuller light, gradually has come to see. Hence, at the request of some Bishops, the two instances of cf were added, and hence we underlined them. So it was making use of the idea that the Holy Spirit could intend more than what the human writer saw - really, not a surprising thing.

DV #12 continues: "To discover the intention of the sacred writers, among other things, one must look to the literary genres. For truth is proposed and expressed different ways in texts that are in different ways historical, or prophetical, or poetical, or other types of speaking. So it is necessary that the interpreter seek out the senses which the sacred writers wanted to express and did express in determined adjuncts, in accordance with the conditions of his time and culture, and by means of the literary genres used at that time. To rightly understand what the sacred writers meant to assert [underline added] in writing, one must pay due attention both to the usual native ways of thinking, speaking, and narrating, which were in use at the time of the sacred writer, and to those which in his age were commonly used in people's dealings with one another."

Here the Council strongly insisted that it is not just legitimate, but necessary, to check the literary genre. This needs to be done not just for each book of Scripture, but for each part of each book. For example, we already saw that in the Book of Daniel, we have both apocalyptic and edifying narrative genres.

We note with pleasure that the Council stressed the matter of what the writer mean to assert.

The Council indicated what Pius XII brought out still more clearly (EB 558): Real research is needed into what genres were actually in use at the time of writing. It would be very wrong to just use our imaginations, and suppose we know. This is what the Biblical Commission also insisted on, as we saw before (in EB 161).

It said we must pay attention to everything in the culture and conditions of the writer. So the interpreter really should know well the ancient languages, chiefly Greek and Hebrew, and the history and the culture.

Failure to know Hebrew could lead to horrid consequences, e.g., St. Paul who knew Hebrew, in Romans 9:13 quoted Malachi 1:2 in which God said: "I have loved Jacob, but hated Esau." But poor St. Augustine thought this meant God really hated Esau! and destined him to hell without even looking to see how he would live (Ad Simplicianum 1. 14). But at the bottom is a Hebrew way of speaking. Hebrew and Aramaic both lack the degrees of comparison, such as: good, better, best, or, clear, clearer, clearest. Not having such forms, when they have such ideas, they are forced to use other devices. One of them is to speak of hate vs. love. In our language we would say: I love one more than the other. In Luke 14:26 Jesus says we must hate our parents. But that is the same Semitic pattern. Matthew 10:37 softened it, using the western way of speaking, and said: "He who loves father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me." We recall that we saw earlier some striking texts from Isaiah 13:9-0 and 34:4 as well as Ezekiel 32:7-8 in which the apocalyptic way of speaking could be very misleading if one did not recognize the genre.

Another feature of the Hebrew way is this: they regularly attribute to the direct action of God things He only permits. Thus in 1 Samuel 4:3 (literal version of the Hebrew) after a defeat by the Philistines, the Hebrews said: "Why did the Lord strike us today before the face of the Philistines?" They knew of course it was the swords of the Philistines that did it. Again, in the account of the ten plagues in Egypt, at times we read that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. But we also read, and often, that God hardened his heart.

A study of the Targums and Rabbinic writings can contribute much. The Targums are ancient Aramaic versions of the Old Testament. We have them for nearly all the Old Testament, and in the Pentateuch, have more than one. They are mostly free versions with fill-ins, which show how they understood the text of Scripture. Unfortunately, many scholars today ignore the Targums - the NJBC has a rather good essay on them in the back part of the volume, but fails to use them at all in explaining the Messianic prophecies one by one.

The plea is that we do not know the date of composition. But we do know that they were made without hindsight - without seeing them fulfilled in Christ. For they hated Christ when He came. Hence they surely reflect ancient Jewish understanding of the Messianic prophecies. Further, Jacob Neusner of Brown University, one of the greatest of Jewish scholars today, in his Messiah in Context (Fortress, Philadelphia, 1984) made an exhaustive study of all Jewish literature after the fall of Jerusalem up to and including the Babylonian Talmud (completed 500 to 600 A. D. ). He found that before the Talmud there was no interest in the Messiah. Within the Talmud, interest revives, but they take up only one of the classic prophecies: He will come of the line of David. Now the Targums see messianic prophecies in so many places. (For a fine study, cf. Samson Levey, The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation. Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1974), it is inconceivable that the parts on the Messianic prophecies could have been written in the centuries in which there was no interest in the Messiah. So the Targums must have been composed (at least orally) before the fall of Jerusalem. Some scholars think they go back to the time of Ezra.

Another example of the need of Hebrew is the way the translations deal with Hebrew hesed. It means the bond between those who have made a covenant, such that each has rights and duties, and should act as kinsmen toward each other. (We can see an implication for the sprinkling of the blood in Exodus 24:8. It meant the people were becoming kinsmen of God). Unfortunately, Greek had no word for hesed. So they usually translated by eleos, which means mercy. There is partial truth in that translation. For if we ask why God gives good things under the covenant, the answer comes on two levels. On the most basic level, He made a covenant and gives things under it out of unmerited, unmeritable generosity. No creature by its own power can establish a claim on Him. All is basically mercy. Yet on the secondary level, given the fact that He did make a covenant, if the people do what He prescribed, He owes it to Himself to give favor (or punishment for disobedience). Incidentally, this twofold sense explains the difficult text of Romans 2;6 where Paul says God will repay each one according to his works. That is part of a quote from Psalm 62:12 which says, in the full text: "You, O God, have hesed, for you will repay each one according to his works." Many English versions unfortunately render it to say: "You O Lord have mercy, for you will repay...." Mercy and repayment do not go together.

In a similar way, the beautiful little Psalm 117 (which used to be used at the end of Benediction) is hardly understood in the usual translations. It should be: "For His hesed [observance of His covenant] towards us is great, and the fidelity of the Lord [to His covenant] is forever."

Hebrew berith means only covenant, but the Greek version was diatheke, which had two meanings: covenant, or testament. A study of the ancient Hittite treaties reveals that they required the subordinate king to "love" his overlord. In context, it means obey. We see from John 14:15 & 21 that in practice, love towards God means obedience. For love towards all others besides God means willing good to them for their sake. We cannot wish that God have any good, He is infinite goodness. But yet Scripture pictures Him as pleased when we obey, displeased when we do not. It is not that He gains anything from our obedience. No, but for two reasons He wants us to obey: 1)He loves everything that is right and good. It is right that creatures should obey their Creator, children their Father. 2)He wants to give us good things - it is in vain if we are not open to receive. His commandments tell us how to be open. They also steer us away from the penalties for sin that lie in the very nature of things (cf. St. Augustine, Confessions 1. 2: "Every disordered soul is its own punishment"). Cf. also 2 John 6: "this is love, that we walk according to His commandments."

A study of Jewish literature of all periods - Old Testament, Intertestamental Literature, New Testament, and Rabbinic texts helps us understand the thought world of Scripture. St. Paul of course was trained as a Rabbi. Now an important concept in those writings is that sin is a debt, which the Holiness of God wants repaid. (Cf. Wm. G. Most, Our Father's Plan, chapter 4). Simeon ben Eleazar (Tosefta, Kiddushin 1. 14), writing about 170 AD., claiming to quote Rabbi Meir from early in the same century, said: "He [anyone] has committed a transgression. Woe to him. He has tipped the scale to the side of debt for himself and for the world." Pope Paul VI in the doctrinal introduction to his Indulgentiarum doctrina (Jan 9, 1967) affirmed the same truth. We need to think of this when we read that Christ has "bought" us, and of the "price" of redemption (cf. 1 Cor 6:20 and 7:23).

Often too, when we read a Greek word in St. Paul, we need to ask what is the Hebrew word in his mind. For example, know often reflects Hebrew yada, which is much broader than the English know, and takes in both mind and will. Justice reflects Hebrew sedaqah, which is the virtue inclining one to do all that morality requires.

Still another feature of that culture was approximation and hyperbole, as Pius XII (Divino afflante spiritu, EB 559) points out. St. Paul in Galatians chapters 1-2 tells of his conversion and subsequent activities. He speaks of three years, and fourteen years, without making clear the point at which the periods begin to run. In 1 Cor 10:8, St. Paul says that 23, 000 fell in the incident described in Numbers 15:1-9. Numbers says 24, 000 fell. Approximation would not mind that difference.

The heart of the section is the following: "But since Sacred Scripture is to be read and interpreted by the same Spirit by which it was written, to rightly determine the sense of the sacred texts, one must look not less diligently to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture, taking into account the living Tradition of the whole Church, and the analogy of faith."

The expression in the first part which says Scripture must be interpreted "by (or :"in") the same Spirit by which it is to be written is open to more than one interpretation. It is certain that the Holy Spirit in giving faith, gives the context in which Scripture is to be read. We think too of the words of St. Paul in 1 Cor 2. 10-16 where he explains that just as only the spirit or soul of a person knows his depths, so only the Spirit knows the depths of God. And he adds: the merely natural man - the one who has not received the Spirit dwelling in him by grace - does not understand the things of the Spirit. But the spiritual man does. So one who does not have the Spirit dwelling in his soul by faith will fail to understand many things even though the words are there, and their sense, objectively, is at hand to be seen. It is true, further, that the farther one advances in the spiritual life and follows the lead of the Holy Spirit more fully, the greater is his understanding of spiritual things, by what we might even call a sort of connaturality.

In fact, sometimes even intelligent people fail to understand things which they could even recite. There may be a positive obstacle, a subconscious block within them, in that they perceive at last subconsciously that if they accept the faith, it will entail consequences for their living which they would not want to accept, e.g., in avoiding contraception and divorce. Then they will not accept, without knowing fully consciously why they are not accepting.

It is also certain that the words of Scripture seem to have a special kind of power, which ordinary explanations alone do not have.

Next the text of DV # 12 tells us we must take into account the unity of all of Scripture. Since it all has the same chief Author, the Holy Spirit, there can be no contradictions. Some today, in noticing that one Evangelist, for example, may have a different scope and slant than another, have gone so far as to say that one contradicts another. For example, they will say that Mark 3. 21-35 paints Our Lady as not believing in Jesus, while the annunciation scene in Luke shows her as wonderfully believing. So such a contradiction is to be ruled out. Again, some love to say that Job 14. 13-22 raises the possibility of a survival after death, but then denies it. This of course contradicts so many things in Scripture, and so cannot be true (we will see details on these two passages later on).

Still further, we must consider the living Tradition of the whole Church. Again, the Church praises Our Lady for her faith, and would shrink in horror from a statement from a prominent scholar that at the annunciation she boldly opposed her human will to the will of God. So the statement that she did such a thing is terribly false. The Church follows, always has followed the words of Elizabeth at the visitation (Lk 1:45): "Blessed are you who have believed!"

In regard to following the "analogy of faith," the sense is similar. Pius XII in Divino afflante Spiritu had said (EB 565) that there are few texts whose meaning the Church has declared, and similarly, few for which we have unanimous teaching of the Fathers. This is obviously true. But the same Pope also explained (EB 551) that we must follow the analogy of faith. That is, any interpretation that we might consider accepting must be checked with the whole body of the truths of faith, with the teachings of the Church. If it would clash even by implication, it is to be dropped. So even though there are few explicit teachings on the sense of individual texts, yet indirectly, by means of this analogy of faith, we know exceedingly many things about the meanings of parts of Scripture. For example, the teachings of the Council of Trent against Luther's errors settle the sense of many things in St. Paul.

Some today have gone so far as to say, contrary to Pius XII that there are no texts whose meaning the Church has defined. They claim that where it seems we do have a definition, the text of Scripture is cited only to illustrate. But this is not realistic, if we examine individual texts of the Magisterium. For example, the Council of Trent gave us the following definition in Canon 2 on the Mass (DS 1752): "If anyone shall say that by those words, 'Do this in commemoration of me' Christ did not establish the Apostles as priests, or did not ordain them so that they and other priests might offer His flesh and blood, let him be anathema." It takes some strange mental contortions to say that the Council cited "Do this in commemoration of me" only to "illustrate." Not at all, it says that when Jesus said those words, He really did ordain the Apostles.

We have been speaking of definitions by the Church of the sense of parts of Scripture. We must not forget that there are other levels of teaching in addition to the solemn definition. There is a second level, of which Vatican II taught (LG # 25): "Although the individual bishops do not have the gift of infallibility, they can still teach Christ's doctrine infallibly, even when they are scattered around the world, provided that, while maintaining the bond of unity among themselves and with the successor of Peter, they agree on a teaching as the one which must be held definitively." If they can do this even when scattered, of course they can also do the same when gathered in a Council with the Pope, even if they do not put things in the form of a definition. The key word is definitively. Whatever mode of teaching may be used, if the Magisterium makes clear it is presenting something as definitive, that is infallible.

There is also a third level of teaching, of which Pius XII wrote in Humani generis in 1950 (DS 3885): "Nor must it be thought that the things contained in encyclical letters do not of themselves require assent of the mind on the plea that in them the pontiffs do not exercise the supreme power of their magisterium. These things are taught with the ordinary magisterium, about which it is also true to say, 'He who hears you, hears me. '(Lk 10:16)". This really means that the Pope alone, in as much as he speaks for the whole Church, can do alone what a Council can do, as described in the second level. He can bring something under the promise "He who hears you, hears me." Of course that promise of Christ cannot fail. So the teaching is infallible.

This does not mean that everything in an encyclical is infallible. No, Pius XII went on to specify the conditions in which this will come true: "If the supreme pontiffs in their acta expressly pass judgment on a matter debated until then, it is obvious to all that the matter, according to the mind and will of the same pontiffs, cannot any longer be considered a matter open for discussion among theologians." For the Pope has shown he is making a definitive decision on something currently being debated. A special case of this came in the Encyclical on the Mystical Body by Pius XII. The modern discussion and tendency to claim ignorance in the human mind of Jesus began with P. Galtier in his book, L'unite de Christ in 1939. Precisely in that context, Pius XII taught, in that Encyclical of 1943, that the human soul of Jesus, from the first instant of conception, had the vision of God, in which all knowledge is available. As we recall his words in Humani generis, cited above, it is clear he intended to close the debate. But it did not close, so he complained about that in Sempiternus Rex of Sept 8, 1951 (DS 3905). Again, in Haurietis aquas of May 15, 1956 (DS 3924) he explicitly restated the teaching about that vision. Still further, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on July 14, 1966, with the approval of Paul VI, again complained of theologians in error in this point. Even the first text of 1943, as we said, showed the intention to settle the debate. And the repeated teachings by two Popes shows the repetition which by itself makes a teaching infallible.

We said that in that vision all knowledge is "available." The reason is this: the human soul of Jesus, being created, cannot as it were contain infinite knowledge. But it did know, as St. Thomas Aquinas said (III. 10. 2. c): "All things that in any way are, or will, or were done or said or thought by anyone, at any time. And so it is to be said that the soul of Christ knew all things in the Word."

There is also a fourth level of teachings of the Magisterium that are not definitive, but still provide moral certitude. Canon 752 of the New Code makes this aspect clear: "Not indeed an assent of faith, but yet a religious submission of mind and will must be given to the teaching which either the supreme pontiff, or the college of bishops [with him] pronounces on faith and morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by a definitive act." Vatican II in LG # 25 had said the same thing: "Religious submission of mind and of will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff even when he is not defining, in such a way, namely, that the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to according to his manifested mind and will, which is clear either from the nature of the documents, or from the repeated presentation of the same doctrine, or from the manner of speaking." [emphasis added]. We must, in other words, look to see if a thing is presented as definitive or not.

How can we believe something which is not infallible? In daily life we do it. Routine opening of a can will not detect Botulism, a deadly food poisoning. Yet we do not send each can to a lab to be checked. We know there is a remote chance, but take it. Life would be unworkable without doing so. The chances of an error on this level by the Church is even more remote. Only the Galileo case, in 2000 years, comes close. Even there, the Pope himself, Urban VIII, stated in 1624 as to the theory that the earth went around the sun, that "the Holy Church had never, and would never, condemn it as heretical, but only as rash."

Some scholars today dare to assert that the Church has very little ability to tell us what a text of Scripture meant originally - it can usually just tell us what it means to people today. To know the original sense, we must depend on scholars! This is a clear contradiction of DV #10, cited above, which says that the task of interpreting belongs exclusively to the Magisterium. $ Chapter 6: The l964 Instruction of the Biblical Commission

On April 21, 1964, The Pontifical Biblical Commission issued an Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels. Left-wing scholars often quote only the parts they like, and omit other important things. We will try to give a broad coverage of the document.

The most important feature of the document is what it has to say about Form and Redaction Criticism.

Before looking at the comments in the Instruction, we notice something that is quite obviously true, which the Form and Redaction critics consider basic: in the production of the Gospels there were three stages:

1) The actions and words of Christ. We notice He would adapt His wording to the current audience. Any good speaker does that.

2) The way the Apostles and others of the first generation reported and preached what He did and said. Again, we would expect them to adapt the wording to the current audience. Therefore it is not necessary to suppose they used always the same words Jesus had used. But they would keep the same sense.

3) Some individuals within the Church, moved by inspiration, wrote down some part of what Jesus did and said. This became the Gospels.

Before going ahead, we inject the comment: In this way we see that the Church has something more basic than the Gospels, its own ongoing teaching. For the Gospels are just part of that teaching, written down under inspiration.

The critics would like to find at which of the three stages the text we now have took its present form. In this way they hope to find out some helpful things.

The study of the first two stages is called Form Criticism. The study of the third stage is called Redaction Criticism.

Thus far there can be no quarrel with this type of study. But problems begin to arise when we attempt to take the next steps.

The work begins with two things. First we try to classify each unit in the Gospels according to the literary form. This is much like literary genre, but attempts a more detailed classification. We might even speak of minigenres. The critics think each passage in the Gospels is made up of several of these units.

In the early days of Form Criticism, the critics commonly said the Evangelists were not authors at all. They were just "stringers of beads." Various people who had heard Jesus were reporting each just one thing He did or said. The Evangelists merely put these together in a string. Today the pendulum has swung far: now the critics see very remarkable artistry in the work of the Evangelists. (We recall that inspiration does not affect the literary style of an author one way or another).

The second thing the critics watch in order to separate out the various units is what they call Sitz-im-Leben. It merely means the life situation in which each form or unit arose, which called for the type of form. At this point already the critics begin to show their great subjectivity.

The two great pioneers who first applied this technique to the Gospels are R. Bultmann and M. Dibelius. (Still earlier, Hermann Gunkel [1862-1932] used the technique in the Old Testament).

First, Bultmann and Dibelius disagree on how to classify the minigenres. For Bultmann the two chief major forms are the Sayings and the Narratives. Sayings include apothegms and dominical sayings. The apothegms are brief sayings of some importance. They include controversy dialogues, scholastic dialogues (where the inquirers are sincere) and biographical sayings. Dibelius uses the name paradigms instead of apothegms. Dibelius thinks only eight out of eighteen paradigms are pure in form.

As to the so called controversy dialogues, Bultmann thinks they arose in the apologetic and polemic work of the Palestinian Church. He objects to calling these passages paradigms (examples of preaching) which is precisely what Dibelius does call them. For example, Bultmann says that the incident in Mark 2:1-12, the forgiveness and cure of the paralytic let down through the roof, is a controversy saying. But Dibelius says that such passages can't be described as disputes. Bultmann says the purpose was to enable the Church to trace its power to forgive sins back to Jesus. But Dibelius says the only point is the reality of the forgiveness.

It is remarkable to hear Bultmann admit explicitly:

"Naturally enough, our judgement will not be made in terms of objective criteria, but will depend on taste and discrimination" (R. Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition, tr. J. Marsh, N. Y., Harper & Row, 1963, p. 47).

The critics commonly assert that the primitive community was "creative." That is, it made things up. So Bultmann thought the controversy dialogues were creations of the Church. We could visualize it thus: two groups in the Church are disputing. Group A has no saying of Jesus to prove its point, so it makes one up. Group B does the same.

But on the contrary, the concern these Christians had for their own eternity would prevent such fakery. St. Ignatius of Antioch was sent to Rome to be eaten by the wild beasts, around 107 A. D. He was eaten. He wrote a heroic letter to Rome, which we still have, in which he says he wants to die for Christ. If one of the Christians there might have influence, and could get him off, Ignatius still wants to die! Now if anyone is tempted to think the community was creative, let him take a copy of Ignatius' letter to Rome to the zoo, and read it in front of the lions' den and ask himself if a man about to be eaten would be creative and indulge in fakery.

Not strangely, in view of the alleged creativity, the critics find it hard to be sure of anything. They propose four criteria to see if a thing is genuine: 1)Double dissimilarity or irreductibility: This means that if an idea is unlike the emphases of both ancient Judaism and early Christianity, it may come from Jesus; 2)Multiple attestation: if we find the same idea coming in different literary forms, it is more likely to be genuine; 3) Coherence: If the item fits with material we already know is authentic by other criteria, it is likely to be genuine. 4) Linguistic and environmental tests:. If the material does not fit with the languages spoken or the environment of Jesus we reject it. But if it does fit, it is not enough to prove it is authentic.

It is obvious that such criteria, especially the first, would rule out many things that are genuine. We saw earlier that we can make a bypass around these worries of critics by means of apologetics, using only six very simple things from the Gospels.

The leftists love to quote the fact that this 1964 Instruction does say Catholic scholars may use these techniques. This is correct, for the method can be used well and be helpful. But many like to forget the warnings in the Instruction: "Certain followers of this method, led astray by the prejudices of rationalism, [1] reject the existence of a supernatural order and the intervention of a personal God in the world as taught by revelation properly so called and, [2] they reject the possibility and actual existence of miracles and prophecies. [3] Others start with a false notion of faith, as if faith does not care about historical truth or is even incompatible with it. [4] Still others deny, as it were in advance, the historical value and character of the documents of revelation. [5] Others, finally, think little of the authority of the Apostles as witnesses of Christ, and of their role and influence on the primitive community, while they extol the creative power of this community. All these things are not only opposed to Catholic doctrine, but also lack a scientific foundation, and are foreign to the right principles of the historical method." [We added numbers for convenience in reference].

Of course persons like Bultmann have these prejudices. In regard to ##1 &2, Bultmann wrote that today "nobody reckons with direct intervention by transcendent powers" (Jesus Christ and Mythology, Charles Scribner's Sons, N. Y., 1958, p. 36). On p. 15 of the same book he says that the whole conception of the world supposed in the New Testament is mythological. In his Kerygma and Myth (ed. H. W. Bartsch, tr. Reginald H. Fuller, N. Y. Harper & Row, Torchbooks, 1961, 2nd ed. I. p. 5) he says that anyone who has seen electric light and the wireless cannot believe in spirits and miracles.

Some Catholics have taken similar attitudes today. Thus R. E. Brown once wrote (in: "The Myth of the Gospels without Myth" in St. Anthony's Messenger, May 1971, pp. 45-46) that to accept all the miracles in the Gospel would be fundamentalism, and adds that no respectable scholar, Catholic or Protestant would do that today. It is good to be able to say that now the NJBC (pp. 1320- 21), which espouses some unfortunate views on errors in Scripture, still admits that extraordinary deeds like exorcisms and cures by Jesus were never denied in ancient times, not even by the enemies of Jesus - they would instead attribute them to magic or the devil.

The third criticism of the Instruction says that some start with a false notion of faith, as if faith would not care about historical truth. Patrick Henry, in a broad survey of conditions at the time of writing (New Directions in New Testament Study, Westminster, 1979, pp. 252-53) reports various views: "Much more important is the Bible's own portrayal of the 'piety of doubt', the 'faithfulness of uncertainty." And a writer in Catholic Biblical Quarterly (July 1982, pp. 447-69) after saying Scripture is full of errors, says that to want to answer charges of error shows a lack of faith, and is "a kind of idolatry that gives a certitude that trespasses upon the true Christian faith-relationship with God." Shades of Bultmann, who in the article cited from Kerygma and Myth said, on pp. 211 and 19 that it is illegitimate and sinful to want to have a basis for faith!

In regard to # 4, the denial of the historical character, we must of course, take into account the genre of any part of Scripture we are considering. But some insist that the Gospels are just preaching. In a way this is true they are preaching. We recall that the third stage mentioned above consists of writing down some part of the original preaching under inspiration. But we must still remember that concern for their eternity would mean that the preaching of the Apostles and others was the truth. Some writers today make statements that could be confusing. Thus Joseph Fitzmyer, in Christological Catechism (Paulist, 1981, p. 118, note 34) writes that it is not easy to define what a gospel is or to say in what "gospel truth" may consist. "In any case" he says ", it is not simply identical with 'historical truth' in some fundamentalistic sense."

In contrast, DV #19 tells us: "Holy Mother the Church firmly and most constantly has held and does hold that the four Gospels mentioned, whose historicity it unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus the Son of God, living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation." Bede Rigeaux, in his commentary on this passage in the Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II (edited by H. Vorgrimler III, p. 259) explained that in this passage we see the clear intention of the Church to accept the value of the synoptic Gospels "as testimony to the reality of the events that they narrate and to the certainty with which they present us with the Person, the words, and the acts of Jesus."

The Instruction does grant what we said before, that the Gospels do not always use the same words, but adapt them to their audience: "The fact that the Evangelists report the words or deeds of the Lord in different order does not affect at all the truth of the narrative, for they keep the sense, while reporting His statements, not to the letter, but in different ways."

There has been confusion about a further statement in DV # 19: "The Apostles after the ascension of the Lord, handed on to their hearers the things which He Himself had said and done, with the fuller understanding which they enjoyed since they were instructed by the glorious events of Christ and the light of the Spirit of truth." Cf. Jn 2:19-21; 3:22; 6:6; 12:16; 20:9.

Of course, this does not mean they invented things or falsified things. For example, the Gospels still portray the Apostles as slow to understand and weak in character. They had not understood His prophecies of His death and resurrection, since their minds were filled with the false notion that He would restore the kingship to Israel - just before the ascension one of them asked if that was the time for it (Acts 1:6). And after the multiplication of the loaves, they had not understood that either, as Mark 6:52 reports.

Again, they did not understand His predictions of His death and resurrection at the time they were given. Later, in the light of the glorious events, they did understand, and preached correctly and wrote appropriately in the Gospels, without, however, presenting themselves as having understood at the time.

So the Instruction did well to warn against considerable dangers, which Catholic scholars have not always avoided. But yet the technique is valuable, even though it can be used well or badly. Let us look at an example or two, both good and bad.

Reginald H. Fuller, one of the chief critics, in Foundations of New Testament Christology (Charles Scribner's Sons, N. Y. 1965, p. 109) made a very influential analysis of Mark 8:29-33. Jesus is up at Caesarea Philippi. He asks His disciples who people says He is. They report various views. Now we will number the units Fuller thought he found: 1) He asks the Apostles who they say He is. Peter replies: You are the Messiah. 2) Jesus tells them not to tell anyone about it. 3) He predicts His death and resurrection, and Peter objects to His death. 4) "Get behind me, satan."

Fuller found no objection to units 1 and 4. But He thought units 2 and 3 were faked by the Church. Jesus had never said He was Messiah. Later the Church was embarrassed, and so invented scenes in which the subject would come up, and Jesus would tell them to keep quiet about it. This notion is really the result of the work of Wilhelm Wrede, The Messianic Secret (tr. J. C. C. Greig, James Clarke Co., Cambridge and London, 1971, 3rd edition). Wrede gave several instances in the Gospels, in which this happened. He said his strongest case was the raising of the daughter of Jairus, after which Jesus called for silence. But, exclaimed Wrede: anyone could see the girl was alive. So this was faked by the Church.

The reply is extremely simple: Jesus went into the house with only the parents, and Peter, James and John. He raised the girl, and called for silence. If the crowds found out, they might seize Him and proclaim Him king Messiah, with a false notion of Messiahship. But how long did He need to keep it quiet? Just long enough for Him to slip out quietly and get on His way to the next village.

So Fuller and Wrede have failed to invalidate the second unit.

In the third unit Jesus predicts His death and resurrection. But, when these things happened, the Apostles acted as if they had never heard about them. So, the critics conclude: The Church faked this unit.

Again, the answer is simple: If someone has a fixed framework of ideas in his mind, and something that would clash tries to get in, it usually does not get in. For example, in the 19th century, one of the three discoverers of germs (along with Pasteur and Lister) was Dr. Semmelweis in Hungary. He therefore told the other Doctors to use antiseptic precautions - which they had never heard of. So they put him into an insane asylum for the rest of his life!. (Scientists can be rougher on science than the Church!).

Again, Norman Perrin of the University of Chicago said in his book, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus (Harper & Row, N. Y., 1967, p. 16) that at one time he was inclined to believe the Gospels. But then, form criticism over and over again showed him he could not trust them. He gives his strongest example: Mark 9. 1, "There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God come with power." Mt 16:28 is the same, except that they will see "the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." In Lk 9:27 they see merely "the Kingdom of God." Matthew and Mark, thinks Perrin, expect the end soon. But Luke has settled down to "the long haul of history." So there is a clash.

Again, the answer is easy. All three synoptics put this line just before the Transfiguration, so that could be what they would see. But better, many scholars admit (e.g., John L. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, p. 481; R. E. Brown, in The Churches the Apostles Left Behind, p. 52 - cf. also his Responses to 101 Questions on the Bible, p. 12) that often in the Synoptics the Church is called the Kingdom of God. Thus in the end of the parable of the wicked tenants, Jesus says (Mt. 21:43): "The kingdom will be taken from you and given to a people who will bring fruit." It meant that the Pharisees would be out of the People of God, and others would take their place (the gentiles). The implication is similar in the parable of the net and the parable of the weeds in the wheat, as well as in other places.

So they will see the kingdom, the Church, and it will be coming with power. Power in the Greek is dynamis. That word in the plural means displays of power, i.e., miracles. So they will live to see the Church being spread with miracles. As to the form in Matthew, they will see the Son of Man, Christ, coming in His kingdom. It means visiting, taking care of His Church by His power (the concept of Hebrew paqad, taking care of it). Luke's reading, "the kingdom" is of course no problem, makes no clash. So Perrin was not really "forced" by form criticism to give up on the Gospels. He had a mental framework, in which there was no room for the facts on this text.

So Fuller's analysis fails since he did not succeed in showing units 2 and 3 to be false, faked by the Church. But if we, since it is interesting, imagine he had proved it, then he would read units 1 and 4: Jesus asks the Apostles who they say He is. Peter says: The Messiah. "Get behind me satan". He angrily rejects the title of Messiah.

This false analysis has been a large root of the claims of ignorance in Jesus.

Then there is the strange case of Teilhard de Chardin, who thought that just before the return of Christ at the end, most people would be joined together in a wonderful unity, like a totalitarian state, but not painful: it would be love that would bind them. He must have read Luke 18:8: "When the Son of Man comes, do you think He will find faith on the earth?" or 2 Thessalonians 2.3 which also predicted a great falling away from the faith. Or Matthew 24:12: "Because sin will reach its peak, the love of most people will grow cold. Chardin too had a fixed framework of ideas, and so could not see.

But as we said, this technique can be used well. For example, Mark 13:30 says: "This generation will not pass away before all these things take place." Form criticism helps us here, by pointing out that things are sometimes put into different settings, so that it is likely that the original context of this verse was one of the fall of Jerusalem. Still further, Hebrew dor can mean generation, but can also mean a time period - here - the Christian regime - and so the sense could be that the Christian regime is the last phases of God's dealings with our race. It is never to be replaced as the Old Testament was. DV # 4 assures us this is the case.

One more example. When Jesus says that if anyone would come after Him, he must take up his cross. Now the cross in the literal sense was known to all the people of his land and time. But He meant it in a modified sense, in the sense of imitating him by self-denial and acceptance of providential sufferings. We gather then, that it is not very likely that Jesus used these words about taking up one's cross, though He expressed the same thought in another way. It would be only later, when the Church had meditated on this point, that such language would be understood by most persons.

Form and Redaction criticism today is under some attack. Reginald H. Fuller, a chief critic, and author of the analysis of the scene at Caesarea Philippi we just saw, has now charged that Form criticism is bankrupt, and that the bankruptcy should be overcome by feedback from the believing community! Fuller showed bad judgment twice. First there was bad judgment when he and others were so very confident they had scientifically proved things, when really the whole historical critical method (of which Form Criticism is a part, as also the approach via literary genres) seldom gives conclusive proof of anything, since it relies mostly on internal evidence (e.g., the claim that Luke wrote the prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem after 70 AD since he spoke of any army surrounding Jerusalem). Internal evidence by its nature seldom gives more than probability. Fuller shows bad judgment a second time in throwing out the baby with the bath, for these techniques really are useful if only one uses them with keen awareness of their limitations.

Further, the critics, as we saw, think it important to discover the life situation, the Sitz-im-Leben of each form. But there is heavy uncertainty about a very major case of this. The traditional view was that Mark wrote at Rome, from the preaching of St. Peter. Some major scholars still agree, e.g., Martin Hengel of Tubingen, in his Studies in the Gospel of Mark (tr. J. Bowden, Philadelphia, Fortress, 1985, p. 29). Hengel thinks Mark wrote to help Christians facing the persecution of Nero. But others, e. g, Wilfred Harrington (Mark, Wilmington, Glazier, 1979 p. xii) thinks it comes from a Christian community in Syria between 66 and 70 AD. R. E. Brown, in Antioch and Rome (Brown and Meier, Paulist, 1983, pp. 199-200) admits he cannot know what purpose Mark had in mind, and that we cannot be sure we know what is tradition and what is editing by Mark - a major step in Form Criticism. C. F. Evans, in The Cambridge History of the Bible (3 vols, Cambridge University, 1960-63, I, pp. 270-71) is almost in despair on this question about Mark.

In regard to the possible rearrangement of materials by the Evangelists, we must ask about retrojection? It consists in writing up something that really happened after the resurrection as if it happened before. Could this be legitimately done? Yes under some conditions, chiefly that the words attributed to Jesus were really said by Him, even if in different form. Otherwise retrojection is a lie, and contrary to inspiration. Today there is much ferment about the question of whether it was chiefly the Romans, or the Jews who were guilty of the death of Jesus. Vatican II, in #4 said there is a special and a general guilt. All who sin have the general guilt. But only those Jews who were before Pilate screaming for His blood contracted the special guilt. We could add that even those Jews not present may have acquiesced or ratified it by their persecution which came very soon.

But to blame merely or chiefly the Romans is to make a lie of St. John's Gospel, and parts of Matthew as well. John pictured Pilate as knowing the innocence of Jesus and of trying to get Him off.

The retrojectors like to blame most of this on the Romans, and say that later in the century, when hostility between Jews and Christians became hot, the Christians invented, retrojected, the claims of His clash with the Jews.

To say that is to make the Gospels a lie. Sadly, not only some Jews but even some Catholics, even priests and Bishops, charge this retrojection.

Commentators on Daniel very often say that his book contains prophecies made after the event--that is, it was written after the time of Antiochus IV of Syria, and retrojected to the 6th century. Would such a retrojection be illegitimate? No in this special case, for the genre is apocalyptic, in which fanciful things can be said without deception.

Another fertile source of confusion is the use of the theologoumenon. In that pattern we find language changed very greatly, e.g., these commentators say she was not physically a virgin: to say that is just a way of expressing her holiness. How can we know if such a thing is being done in a concrete case? At least most of the time we must have recourse to the teachings of the Magisterium. Several early Councils, cited in Vatican II, On the Church #57,have affirmed that physically she was a virgin. LG 57 itself said she showed her Firstborn to the shepherds and the Magi, He who did not diminish but consecrated her virginal integrity." That last word is of course a physical word.

In similar ways and by the abuse of form and redaction criticism, the pseudo-scholars are having a field day, vying as it were with each other to see who can say the most outrageous things. Then the media call them heralds of new knowledge. But those who follow what we have just explained need not be mislead.

We need to notice too that Semites are apt to use approximation, as Pius XII reminded us in his Encyclical. Especially is this the case on numbers. Thus the Hebrew of Jonah says God will destroy the city in 40 days. But the Greek LXX makes it 3 days. In Galatians 1-2 Paul says that after his conversion he went to Arabia, and then after three years went to Jerusalem. We do not know where to start counting the three years. Also he says in 2.1 that after 14 years he went to Jerusalem again-we do not know where to start counting the 14 years. And in Numbers 25.1 we read that 24,000 Jews fell--but Paul in 1 Cor 10.8 gives only 23,000.

Semites are not modern Americans.

Chapter 7: Which are the Inspired Books?

In our sketch of apologetics in chapter 2, we said that the only way to be sure which books are inspired is to accept the decision of the Church. Actually, the Church was in no hurry to give definitive statements on this subject. Why?

We saw in chapter 6 that Form Criticism shows the Church has something more basic than the Gospels, its own ongoing teaching. Up to the time of Luther, people did not basically depend on Scripture, they simply followed the oral teaching of the Church, which, as we said, is primary. Jesus never told the Apostles: Write Some books, give out copies, tell people to figure them out for themselves. This is what the "Reformers" implied. It is foolish. Copies were very expensive, not everyone could read, and the study of Scripture is quite difficult, One should know the original languages, genres, history and culture among other things. In addition, the Second Epistle of Peter tells us (3:15- 16) that in the Epistles of St. Paul there are many things that are hard are hard to understand: the unlearned and unstable twist them to their own destruction. The "Reformers" surely proved that right.

Instead, we find in Second Timothy 1:13: "Hold to the form of sound teaching which you heard from me." And again in 2:2: "The things which you heard from me, through many witnesses, hand on to trustworthy men, who will be able in turn to teach others."

Not strange then that the Church saw no urgent need to draw up a canon, that is, a list of inspired books. St. Justin Martyr, in his defense of Christianity to the Jew Trypho (Dialogue, chapter 32, cf 68) says he will use only the Scripture that the Jews would accept - a natural move in such a dialogue.

There was an unofficial list in the Muratorian Fragment - which was found at Milan. It dates from late second century, and does give a list of books. However we see in it some early hesitations. Not mentioned are the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Epistles of James and Peter. It rejects some pseudo- Pauline letters to Laodicea, and Gnostic, Marcionite and Montanist writings in general. From this we gather that a stimulus to make a list came from the existence of heretical writings. Marcion rejected the entire Old Testament, and three Gospels, keeping part of Luke and some of St. Paul's Epistles.

While most of the books of Old and New Testament were accepted by the Church from the beginning, there were some hesitations, such as those about the so-called Deuterocanonicals, which are, in general those books that are found in the Septuagint (the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament) but not in the Hebrew Old Testament. (They include in general: Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith and additions to Esther and Daniel).

There were also other hesitations, for example, the Epistle to the Hebrews was accepted very early in the East, chiefly at Alexandria, but the west did not accept it until the fourth century. In reverse, the Apocalypse/Revelation was accepted early in the west, only later in the East. Many fathers - chiefly: Justin, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian and Hippolytus believed the John who was its author was the Apostle John. Other fathers, chiefly: Denis of Alexandria, Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen and John Chrysostom thought it was not the Apostle John.

St. Augustine accepted the longer canon (list - including the deuterocanonicals) and defended it in his De Doctrina Christiana 8. At the Council of Hippo, his diocese, in 393 AD the longer canon was accepted, and repeated and confirmed in the 3rd and 4th Councils of Carthage in 397 and 418. At the end of the decree was a request to Pope Boniface to confirm it. In 405 St. Exsuperius, Bishop of Toulouse, wrote to Pope Innocent I, asking him for a ruling. The Pope wrote back to him, repeating the list drawn up by the Councils. As a result there was much unanimity in the west in the 5th century, though the East was slower to accept, waiting until the 7th century.

But even in the west there was some difficulty, especially under the influence of St. Jerome, who tended to favor the shorter canon (without the deuterocanonicals). So Pope Gregory I spoke of First Macchabees as useful for edification but not canonical. Cardinal Cajetan, about a thousand years later, expressed a similar view even after the Decree for the Jacobites of the Council of Florence (1441: DS 1335).

The really final settlement came from the Council of Trent, against the errors of Luther, in 1546 (DS 1501-05). It accepted the same list as the African councils.

Chapter 8: The Pentateuch

In chapter 3, in order to answer some objections, we needed to say a few things in passing about the Pentateuch. Especially we saw the modern views on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and something on the Documentary theory. The tendency to reject Mosaic authorship probably stems mostly from the belief that if Moses were the author, then, since he would have been an eyewitness, we would have much history in the Pentateuch. We will explore that question more fully in our chapter on Genesis.

The objections raised to Mosaic authorship (considering authorship on the broad base suggested by the Biblical Commission, which we saw in chapter 3) rest on very weak arguments, e.g., that Moses could not have recorded his own death in Dt 34. Of course not, but someone could have added that section. Again, there are expressions inserted e.g., at Dt 34:6 "until this day" that point to a later time. But when we remember the ancient Near Eastern attitude to authorship in which a later hand felt free to add things, this is hardly strange. Again, there are claims of anachronisms, e.g., mentions of the Philistines in Gen 26:14-18, who were not there at the time - but this again can be the effect of later hands. Or, the Philistines of Gen 26 may have been an earlier wave of migrants from Crete (Cf. Kitchen, op. cit., p. 80. Kitchen also on pp. 82-884 gives other ancient instances of such an "anticipation" of a name).

Interestingly, Joseph Jensen in God's Word to Israel (2nd ed. Collegeville, 1982, p. 79) repeats what has often been said, that if the Bible did not tell us about Moses, we would have to invent him, and adds that surely some great genius who worked with "heroic fidelity" must have had a part in the formation of Israel.

Meanwhile, the rejection of Mosaic authorship leads naturally to the theory of multiple documents by others, which we saw briefly in chapter 3, but need to explore more fully now.

Documentary theory: The first beginnings of the theory go back to a priest, R. Simon, who in 1678 argued from repetitions, discontinuity in chronology and logic and stylistic variations to the conclusion that there was a sort of corps of "public secretaries" whose gradual accretions up to the time of Ezra (5th century) produced the Pentateuch. His theory was not well received until 1776 when a German translation of it appeared.

H. B. Witter in 1711 suggested that the variation in names for God (Elohim/ Yahweh Elohim) pointed to different documents.

The Yahwist document (J) prefers the name Yahweh, it stresses events after the Patriarchs as the fulfillment of the promises God made to them. It speaks of God in human terms - anthropomorphisms - and speaks of God as angry and regretting that He had made man, and as coming down to see the tower of Babylon. The Elohist document (E) prefers the name Elohim, and is much less inclined to use anthropomorphisms. The Priestly Code (P) is noted for its special interest in cultic things and religious laws. Thus the Book of Leviticus would be entirely P. The Deuteronomist (D) is found especially in Deuteronomy, with influence from that view also seen in Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings. The Deuteronomist document (D) tends to be oratorical or homiletic in tone, and stresses the importance of fidelity to God's laws, resulting in reward or punishment.

These documentary beliefs were especially promoted by Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) whose study of Israelite laws led him to think Israel began with a naturist religion, then the prophets introduced ethical monotheism. The Pentateuch reached full development during and after the Exile, c. 450 B.C.

He thought he could give a relative dating of the documents. He held that the law book discovered in the 18th year of King Josiah (2 Kings 22) was Deuteronomy. Many still hold this view. So he thought the D document must have been composed at that time, in the late 7th century. He did not seem to consider it could have been something much older, just discovered then. He thought the Yahwist (J) and Elohist (E) documents came from the 9th and 8th centuries, respectively, in the early monarchy. He thought the books of Kings showed no acquaintance with the special laws found in the priestly code (P) but that the books of Chronicles did know it. Chronicles he said was postexilic. P seemed to him to be an advance on the provisions found in chapters 40-48 of Ezekiel, and so put the composition of P in the 5th century, after the end of the exile. Wellhausen thought an 8th century BC author could not know anything substantial about the Patriarchs, and so made a free creation in his writing.

Today, even scholars favorable to the Documentary Hypothesis admit that Wellhausen's skepticism about the historical and religious traditions can no longer be held, since advances in our knowledge of the biblical background pretty well rule out such skepticism. Wellhausen depended much on pagan panArabic parallels, for he did not really know the ancient world. Further, modern study would not favor the idea that documents were composed at definite times. The dates assigned are really, it is thought, not those of the origin of the material in the document, but mark the end of a long development, so that even P, which is considered the most recent, has much ancient material. The tendency today is to speak of traditions or sources rather than of documents.

Many still hold the documentary theory. Pope John Paul II, in his conferences on Genesis (Original Unity of Man and Woman, Catechesis on the Book of Genesis, Boston, St. Paul Editions, 1981) seems to favor it. Of course his use of these things does not constitute a teaching given to the universal Church. Further this is a matter of history, not of faith.

Many others today are strongly rejecting the theory. A major example appeared in R. N. Whybray, The Making of the Pentateuch (JSOT Supplements 5, Sheffield, 1987). It was very favorably reviewed in CBQ of Jan. 1989, pp. 138-39 by Joseph Blenkinsopp who said that it is clear that the hypothesis is "in serious trouble, with no viable alternative yet in sight." Whybray, according to the review easily showed the fragility of many of the arguments given for the theory, showed that the criteria used to tell one source from another require "an unreasonable level of consistency" in the sources themselves, so that it has been necessary to suppose a multitude of subsidiary sources. Yet the same consistency was not supposed to be found in the redactors. Whybray himself suggested the Pentateuch came from a single genius, no earlier than 6th century B.C., who used many sources, not all of them ancient. But this idea does not take into account the long development of the legal tradition in Israel.

Y. T. Radday and H. Shore, in Genesis: An Authorship Study in Computer- assisted Statistical Linguistics (Analecta Biblica, vol. 103, 1985) report the results of feeding the Hebrew text of Genesis into a computer at the Technion Institute in Israel. They conclude: Genesis has only one author. (Cf. also U. Cassuto, The Documentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the Pentateuch: Eight Lectures. Jerusalem, Magnes, 1961).

A major argument for the theory comes from supposed doublets, i. e, it is claimed that creation is told twice, in Gen 1 and 2. There are two genealogies of the descendants of Adam, in chapters 4 and 5. The flood is told twice there are some inconsistencies in the number of animals and on the timetable of the flood. And Noah enters the ark twice. There are also two accounts of the selling of Joseph into Egypt.

However, these special features may be due to a well known Hebrew pattern of using concentric circles in narratives: the story begins, after a bit, it goes back to the beginning, is retold with other details. This may go on for two or three rounds. Further, Kenneth A. Kitchen, of the University of Liverpool, in Ancient Orient and Old Testament (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 1966. pp. 112-21) has discovered similar patterns of repetition in documents from Urartu and Egypt.

As to the so-called inconsistencies in numbers of animals taken into the ark, there are two answers: a)Within the concentric ring pattern, at first a general preliminary statement is made, which is then fleshed out in the second ring, which also adds the distinction of clean/unclean animals; b)in 6:19-20 the Hebrew is shenayim - which is a dual ending (besides singular and plural, Hebrew had dual, for a pair). Now one cannot add a plural ending on top of a dual, hence we see the form which indicates pair, without saying how many pairs. In 7:2-3 we translate "seven pairs". Actually, the Hebrew has shivah shivah = seven seven. Hebrew is not rich in forms.

Another major argument proposed for the documentary theory is the variation in divine names, between Elohim, and Yahweh Elohim. Again, Kitchen has found parallels to this sort of thing in other ancient Near Eastern literature (pp. 121-22): There are three names for the god Osiris on the Berlin stela of Ikhernofret; In the Lipit-Ishtar laws Enlil is also called Nunamnir, and in the prologue to the Code of Hammurapi we have Inanna/Ishtar/Telitum; in the Babylonian Enuma elish epic, three gods have double names. The same phenomenon is seen in Canaan, Old South Arabia, and among the Hurrians and Hittites. In none of those cases do scholars try to invent two or three documents.

Those who favor the Documentary theory also point to stylistic differences: the style of the Yahwist has unified scenes bound together by a continuous thread. He prefers the concrete, is good at character portraits. The Elohist lacks the picturesque manner, has less dramatic vigor. The Yahwist goes in for anthropomorphisms, the Elohist does not. But we reply: The reasoning is in part a vicious circle: the alleged documents were differentiated on the basis of the styles - then the styles are used to prove different documents. Again, Kitchen helps us (p. 125) by showing that style variations are common in the Near East. He mentions the biographical inscription of an Egyptian official Uni (c 1400 B.C. ), which contains flowing narrative, summary statements, a victory hymn, and two different refrains repeated at suitable but varying intervals. A similar phenomenon is found in the royal inscriptions of the kings of Urartu.

To sum up: we have not disproved the Documentary theory, but we have shown that its proponents are far from proving it too.

One further question for now: Could we believe that some of the names and facts were really transmitted orally for centuries? We know definitely that such a thing is possible. For example, the first name on the Assyrian King List is King Tudia. For long it was thought he was only a legend. But now the picture has changed: An Italian archaeologist, Paolo Matthiae, began excavations at Ebla (about 35 miles south of Aleppo in Syria), in about 1963 and uncovered a major ancient civilization, almost unknown up to that date. In 1969 he showed an inscription to epigrapher Giovanni Pettinato, who quickly recognized the name of King Ibbit-Lim of Ebla. Pettinato dates the clay tablets from Ebla at about 2500 B.C. Pettinato further has found a text of a treaty between the King of Ebla, and King Tudia, founder of the first dynasty of Assyria. So we now are certain that Tudia is not legendary but historical - the Assyrian king list giving the name of Tudia dates from about 1000 B.C., while the tablet from Ebla shows Tudia made that treaty around 2350 B.C. So memory preserved correct data on Tudia for about 13 centuries. (Cf. G. Pettinato, The Archives of Ebla, Doubleday, 1981, pp. 103-05 also 70 & 73).

Roland E. Murphy, one of the editors of the NJBC (p. 4) says that today there is a tendency to think more in terms of an expansion of J, especially from E, which provided added traditions to insert, but which may have never existed independently on its own.

Finally, we should mention some current terminology that one may meet in reading. Tradition History means a study of the various stages a unit went through before being incorporated into the present form. The study of the final form is called

Redaction Criticism.

There is also a Literary Approach, which concentrates on the literary qualities of the text, and does not concern itself with questions of history or documents. Canonical Criticism concentrates on merely the text as we now have it, as the Postexilic community saw it, leaving aside all questions of its formation.

Chapter 9: The Book of Genesis

Our first move is to try to determine the literary genre of Genesis. Here we clearly must distinguish between chapters 1-11 and the rest of Genesis.

We have already seen in chapter 3, in answering objections, the statement of Pius XII on Genesis 1-11, that Genesis 1-11 is in a genre that pertains to history in some way, without being the same as the pattern used by Greek and Roman or modern historians. We saw too that John Paul II called the genre "myth", but explained he did not mean a mere fairy tale, but meant an ancient story devised to bring out some things that really happened.

We saw too the remarkable statement of 160 major scientists that the form of evolution proposed by Darwin was false, since the fossil record simply did not support it. They proposed instead an unsupported supposition of "punctuated equilibria" that is, that a species might stay the same for millions of years, and then by a sudden fluke, leap up to something much higher in the same category.

It is good to add some modern scientific work that bears on polygenism - the theory that our race came from more than one pair. Pius XII, in Humani generis in 1951 after saying that we may consider evolution provided it is not atheistic, added that we are not so free about polygenism "since it is by no means clear how such a view could be reconciled with what the sources of revelation and the actions of the Magisterium tell us about original sin, which comes from a sin really committed by one Adam, and which is passed on to all by generation, and is within each one as his own" (DS 3897). On reading these words, some say that polygenism is completely ruled out. Others, who mean to be loyal to the Church, notice the Pope said we may not hold polygenism since it is by no means clear how it can fit with Scripture and the Magisterium. They notice - what is true - that papal texts are framed with extreme care. And they say that the Pope may have meant to leave door open, to say that if a way should be found to reconcile polygenism with revealed truth, the objection would drop.

Teilhard de Chardin proposed evolution of human mind and character in addition to that of body, so that just before the return of Christ at the end, most of the race would be joined in a unity like that of a totalitarian state, but it would not be unpleasant, since they would be bound by love. The Holy Office on June 30, 1962 warned his works contain, "ambiguities and even grave errors," but did not forbid them or name the errors. However it is easy to refute this great error about the time before the end: Lk 18.8 says: "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" Cf. 2 Ths 2.3, with the same prediction and also the picture given in 2 Tim 3.1-4.

However, on the side of natural science some impressive evidence has come to light against polygenism. of August 13, 1983, p. 101 reported that Allan Wilson of the University of California at Berkeley asserts, as a result of worldwide research on mitochondria, that we all go back to one mother, who lived 350,000 years ago. At first other scientists did not favor his view. But that has changed. of Jan 21, 1988 in a large article reports that view is now widely accepted, except that they have lowered the age to 200,000 years ago. Of course, this would not disprove polygenism, for it could be that, e.g., 6 pairs started our race, and the lines of all but one died out. For more see vol. 147, p. 326.

John Paul II, in a General Audience of Oct 1, 1986 clarified the concept of original sin. He said that it "has not the character of personal guilt. It is the privation of sanctifying grace," that is, it is the lack of something that should be there, not a positive presence. So the transmission by heredity really means that grace is not transmitted. In the audience of Oct 8, 1986 he added that when we say our mind is darkened and our will weakened, this refers to a "relative, and not an absolute deterioration." That is, we are put down no lower than we would have been had God created our race with no added gifts beyond essential humanity. Such a nature, having many drives within it, each operating blindly, would need mortification to tame it. This disorder would make the mind relatively less clear, and the will relatively weaker.

From the cleverly designed story of Genesis, it is evident that God had given our first parents what could be called a coordinating gift, that is, a gift to make it easy to keep all the drives in their proper place. (This has often been called the Gift of Integrity). When God called, "Adam, where are you?" Adam said: "I hid myself for I was naked." God said: "How did you find that out, if you did not eat the forbidden fruit?" In other words, before and after the fall, Adam was naked. But it formerly did not bother him - he had the coordinating gift. Afterwards, without that gift, it did bother him.

Did the Hebrews see original sin in the Genesis story? Surely, they did not talk much about it. There are just a few doubtful texts in the Old Testament that could, but need not, refer to it: (Job 14:4; Psalm 51:5; Sirach 25:23; Wisdom 2:23-24 and 10:1-2). There are just a few places in the intertestamental literature (Jewish writing after the end of the Old Testament) in which we might see original sin: IV Ezra 3. 20 and 7. 46-49 (prob. late 1st century AD); II Baruch 18. 2; 23. 4; 48. 42-43; 54. 15-16; 56. 5-6 (early 2nd century AD); Testament of Adam 3.3 (2nd -5th century AD); Pseudo Philo 62.5 (prob. 1st century AD).

However, even if the Jews did not notice it, it is clearly implied in Genesis. For God had given to Adam and Eve the gift of grace, His favor. They lost it - or rather, cast it away by sin -and so could not pass it on to their descendants. To be born out of God's favor is to lack grace. And that is what original sin is. We need to notice as to the word favor, if we meant merely that God as it were smiles at us, but gives us nothing, we would do good by our own powers: the heresy of Pelagianism. So in practice, to lack His favor means to lack what He gives us, His grace.

There are other things brought out by that well-designed story, chiefly: God made all things - in some special way (leaving room for theistic evolution) He made the first human pair - He gave them some sort of command (we do not know if it was or was not about a fruit tree - that may be stage dressing) -they violated His orders and fell from favor. In addition the story tells us the psychology of every sin. For Eve knew God had said they would die if they ate it - but she believed the tempter who said that they would instead become like gods - and she looked at the fruit, and as it were said: "God may know what is good in general - but right now, I know better! I can see for myself!" So pride is the essence of every sin.

What of the names Adam and Eve? We do not know if they used those names - but that does not mean we should say there was no Adam and Eve. There was a first pair, regardless of the names they used.

Some scholars today think the writer of Genesis used some then current stories, probably from Mesopotamia. We would not have to rule out such a possibility in advance, for we have said that Genesis uses stories to convey things that really happened. We add that Vatican II (LG # 55) said, having in mind chiefly Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14: "These primeval documents, as they are read in the Church, and are understood in the light of later and full revelation, gradually bring before us the figure of the Mother of the Redeemer. She, in this light, is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise, given to our first parents who had sinned, of victory over the serpent (cf. Gen 3, 15)."

It is evident, especially from the use of the cf before Gen 3:15 in the parenthesis, that the Council did not want to say flatly that the human writer understood all that the Church, in the light of later and full revelation, gradually came to understand. So we could conceive of the inspired writer of Genesis as using secular stories to make his point, without understanding all that we now see in them. Yet it is beyond doubt that he did see a first sin, a fall, and some kind of promise of enmity. And elsewhere - DV #3 - the Council seemed to take a more optimistic view of what that writer understood: "Moreover, after their fall, by promising redemption, He lifted them up into the hope of salvation (cf. Gen 3:15)." Now they could not be lifted up into hope without understanding some promise of rescue.

But if we turn to the stories that scholars favor, the chances of use by the writer of Genesis go far down. The Babylonian epic, Enuma elish, often called a creation story, shows some strong similarities in the order of things created on each day (Cf. Alexander Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, Univ. of Chicago, 1951, pp. 128-29). However, as Heidel himself admits ,"the differences are far too great and the similarities far too insignificant" to make us suppose that the Enuma elish contributed much to Genesis.

Something much closer is the creation account found at Ebla (Pettinato, op. cit., pp. 144 and 159): "Lord of heaven and earth, the earth was not, you created it, the light of day was not, you created it, the morning light you had not [yet] made exist." However, Pettinato's translation was promptly challenged by Archi, his successor as epigrapher of Ebla (BAR Nov. -Dec. 1980, p. 42).

Some today charge error in Genesis because it speaks of Abel as a herdsman, and Cain as a farmer - these developments belong much later in the history of our race, they say. Further, Genesis 4:21- 22 speaks of Jubal, the ancestor of those who play harp and flute, and of Tubalcain as the father of all who work in bronze and iron. Again, much too early. However, once we grasp the fact that Genesis 1-11 consists of stories designed to bring out some things that were really true we have no problem here. That whole stretch is designed to show how mankind was sinful from the start, to such an extent that God repented of making mankind and sent the deluge. Within this framework, then, the odd little episode of 6:1-4 in which the sons of God had children by human women is likely to be some ancient tale, which the author of Genesis found suited his purpose well - showing the wickedness of all. Who the sons of god are is much discussed. Some suggest it means sons of Seth, taking wives from the daughters of Cain. Some Fathers of the Church thought it meant angels! (e.g., St. Justin Martyr, Apology II. 5). Angels do not have bodies, but otherwise, we do not know. But the point is clear, it was an ancient tale meant to help bring out the wickedness of the race, leading right up to the deluge.

What is the genre of the deluge account? Is it just part of the sequence of ancient tales to bring out things, or is it basically historical this time? In favor of saying it is historical is the fact that flood traditions are found all over the globe. And especially the king lists of Sumer are significant. Those lists go back to at least 2000 B.C. They say there were 8 kings before the flood, reigning in five cities, a total of 432, 200 years. Among them was Enmenlu-Anna who ruled 43,100 years. After the flood, the kings became short-lived! Twenty-three kings ruled for a total of only 24,510 years, 3 months and 3 1/2 days. (Lists can be seen in ANET 265-66). Of course, such numbers were never intended to be taken at face value. What was intended we do not know - perhaps symbolic numbers? They make the great ages in Genesis 5 seem slight.

However, our interest is other. The land of Sumer, between the Tigris and Euphrates, had annual floods in those times. To speak of the flood in such a context surely stands for a king sized flood.

The Babylonian story is found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and probably goes back to at least 2000 B.C. In both stories, there is a hero who is to be saved - Noah in Genesis, Utnapishtim in Gilgamesh. Each is told to build an ark, with detailed specifications. Then comes the cataclysm. The ark finally rests on a tall mountain. Both Noah and Utnapishtim release series of birds to see if the water has gone down. Each account mentions a dove and a raven. Each hero offers sacrifice, but there are great differences: The biblical flood is a punishment for sin; there is no motive given by the gods in the Babylonian version, it is mere caprice. In the Babylonian text, the gods cowered in fear of the flood. When Utnapishtim offered sacrifice after the flood, they came down and "swarmed like flies" around the sacrifice - the gods needed sacrifices for food. The gods admit Utnapishtim to the ranks of the gods, he becomes immortal. (The complete text of the Gilgamesh epic can be found in Alexander Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels, University of Chicago, 1949.

We do not know the relation of the two. Perhaps the writer of Genesis took the Babylonian account, purified it of polytheistic elements, and used it. On the other hand, the two accounts could have been independent accounts of a historical flood.

But there are new discoveries today, which make the deluge certain. A high pentagon official told me he had been permitted to see high resolution photos taken from our satellite, which show the ark up on Mt. Ararat. At some seasons is it largely covered with snow. He told me further the army had sent soldiers up to the ark. They had entered it, had seen the animal stalls, and had founds its measurements are those found in Genesis.

Another set of claims is this: The Turkish government today has set up a Noah's Ark Park farther down. Ron Wyatt and associates discovered there a buried ship, of the same measurements. Using subsurface radar --with trained expert operators-- he found there is a pattern of regularly occurring spots, which he takes to be metal brackets in a pattern of lines from stem to stern, and also going crossways.

There can be no reasonable doubt about the ark seen from space. What Wyatt found is something real, but different. Though not highly trained himself, he did employ radar specialists. He has published a video showing in detail the explorations and the results (Wyatt Archaeological Research, Nashville, TN).

As to the Babylonian tower, we note that temple towers were common in ancient Babylonia. We cannot judge the historical character of this account. But we notice the clever play on words with popular etymology: Gen 11:6 speaks of it as Babel, the place where the Lord confused tongues, playing on Hebrew babel, "confusion". Yet Babylonian bab-ili meant "gate of the gods." The writer of Genesis may have been making fun of the "gate of the gods".

We notice the strong anthropomorphism in this account: God comes down to see the tower.

Genesis 12-50

Here we seem to leave the realm of mere ancient stories contrived to bring out some things that really happened. We now have the history of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Even so, we ask about the genre. Many today think it is something like epic. As we have seen, epic genre was around in those days. An epic will have a strong core of history, but yet work in some fanciful elements.

Naturally, we begin with the great patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To what age do they belong, if to any? T. L. Thompson, in The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives, (Berlin, 1974) would virtually drop archaeological evidence, and date the patriarchs to the first millennium B.C. - since there is no room for them historically at such a point, it amounts to a denial. Similarly. J. Van Seters, Abraham in History and Tradition, (New Haven, 1975) drops archaeology, wants to date patriarchs in first millennium.

Some would make the patriarchs mere eponymous ancestors, persons from whom the names of later tribes were derived.

Most scholars would not agree with such extreme radicalism. P. Kyle McCarter Jr. in the chapter on the Patriarchal Age, in the symposium, Ancient Israel, (ed. Hershel Shanks) published by the Biblical Archaeology Society in 1988 says on p. 16: "Most [scholars] remain convinced that the stories about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob contain a kernel of authentic history." We already suggested something like epic genre for Genesis 12-50. And we think there is more than just a kernel of real history, even though the ambitious attempts of the school of W. F. Albright (including especially E. A. Speiser and G. Ernest Wright) to use archaeology to validate Genesis have not stood up completely against the attacks of subsequent criticism.

There is too much evidence to deny basic reality to the patriarchs. We cannot imagine why Israelites would invent the claim that Abraham's wife was his half-sister (cf. Gen 20:12) or that Jacob married two sisters (29:15-30). Leviticus 18:9 prohibits marriage with a half sister, and Leviticus 18:18 prohibits marrying the sister of one's wife, and 18. 29 calls both an abomination.

Nor would they invent some other things, such as the shameful way Jacob bought the birthright from his brother Esau and then lied to get his father's blessing. Also, the jealousy of the brothers of Joseph, and their selling him as a slave are disgraceful things.

Kitchen (op. cit, pp. 49-50 shows that seasonal occupation of the Negeb region on the SW border of Palestine is archaeologically attested from the 21st to the 19th centuries, but not for the thousand years earlier or for 800 years afterwards. Abraham and Isaac spent time in this area and were keepers of flocks and herds, and at times grew grain. So they would fit best in the period about 2100- 1800 B.C.

Especially significant is the fact that Joseph was sold as a slave (Gen 37:28) for 20 shekels. That is the correct average price for a slave in about the 18th century B.C. Before that, as shown in the Code of Hammurabi and in Mari documents, slaves cost from 10 to 15 shekels. Later they rose steadily in price (cf. Kitchen, pp. 52-52).

It is worth mentioning too that the system of power-alliances, such as four kings against five of Genesis 14, is common in Mesopotamia in the period 2000-1750, but not before or after that (cf. Kitchen, p. 45).

St. Paul often appealed to the faith of Abraham as the model of the faith we must have (Galatians 3:6; Romans 4). Indeed it was remarkable, not only when he believed go that he, at age 99, and his sterile wife Sarah, at age 90, would have a son Isaac, through whom he would be the father of a great nation, but even more so when without asking any question Abraham obeyed God's order to sacrifice Isaac when Isaac was still a little boy, too young to start the fulfillment of God's promise about a great posterity through him.

The picture of Abraham's faith corresponds exactly with St. Paul's idea of faith. Pauline faith includes four elements: belief in God's word (cf. 1 Ths 2:13), confidence in God's promise (cf. Gal 5:5), obedience to God's commands (cf. Rom 1:5), all to be done in love (Gal 5:6). Abraham did believe God's word, had confidence in His promise even when that seemed voided by the command to sacrifice, and his obedience was so great as to be willing to sacrifice his dear son, thereby, as we said, seeming to cut off the promise of a great posterity - in which he was yet required to believe.

We note in passing how different this concept of faith is from Luther's, who held faith meant merely the conviction that the merits of Christ applied to himself. The standard Protestant reference work, Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplement, p. 333, gives precisely the same picture of Pauline faith as we have just done. Luther thought if one had his version of faith, he could disobey God's laws with impunity (Epistle 501). But Luther did not see that faith includes obedience -- so faith does not dispense from obedience.

There are so many other things in Genesis on which we could comment - such as a the beautiful story of Joseph, with its magnificent pay-off scene, when he reveals himself to his brothers. But we have space for just a short comment on two great prophecies, those of Gen 3:15 and Genesis 49:10.

We are fortunate in having a great ancient resource to understand these prophecies, as well as some other things in the Old Testament: the Targums. These are ancient Aramaic versions of the Hebrew text, most of them free, and including fill-ins, which show how the Jews understood the prophecies. Of course, they did this without the hindsight of seeing them fulfilled in Christ, whom they hated. So even if we knew no more about the date of the Targums, we would still be able to use them to see how the Jews themselves in ancient times understood their own Scriptures. But we do have more help. Jacob Neusner of Brown University, probably the greatest of modern Jewish scholars, in his book, Messiah in Context (Phila., Fortress, 1984) made a full survey of all Jewish literature from after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., up to and including the Babylonian Talmud, written 500-600 A.D. He found that before that Talmud, there was no interest in the Messiah. In the Talmud, interest revives, but the only one of the major prophecies mentioned is that he should be of the line of David. In contrast, the Targums see the Messiah in so many places, in much detail. It is hardly conceivable that such texts could have been written during the period in which there was no, or little, interest in the Messiah. So they must go back before the fall of Jerusalem. Some scholars think that in oral form, they go back to the time of Ezra (cf. Nehemiah 8:7-8).

Three of the four the Targums see Genesis 3:15 as Messianic, even though they cloud the picture somewhat by inserting some allegory. They say the sons of the woman will be at war with the serpent. When the sons of the woman study the Torah, they will be victorious. The serpent will strike at their heel, but the sons of the woman will smite the serpent on the head. There will be a remedy for the sons of the woman, but none for the serpent. Both will make peace in the days of King Messiah. (Cf. Samson Levey, The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1974).

Vatican II, in LG # 55 says, as we saw above: "These primeval documents [thinking chiefly of Gen 3:15 and Is 7:14] as they are read in the Church, and understood in the light of later and full revelation, gradually bring before us the figure of the woman, the Mother of the Redeemer." So, even if the human writer of Genesis may not have seen the full import, yet the Church now, in the light of later and full revelation, does see Mary in this text - and then, of course, Christ.

All Targums see Genesis 49:10 as messianic. We translate in the light of the Targum - most modern versions seem not to utilize them: "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs [or: until Shiloh comes], and his shall be the obedience of the peoples".

Jacob Neusner, in the book just mentioned, on p. 242 says: "It is difficult to imagine how Gen 49:10 can have been read as other than a messianic prediction." So a fine Jewish scholar can see it, while so many Catholic scholars cannot. They say that the word shiloh is grammatically feminine, while the verb with it has a masculine ending. So they say the text is corrupt, they must emend it. But Shiloh is masculine in sense, even though feminine in grammatical form. And besides, there are other cases in the Old Testament where the same mixture occurs, and the same scholars do not worry about those: Jer 49:16 and Ez 1. 5-10. The pattern becomes common in Mishnaic Hebrew. Levey (op. cit. p. 8) comments that other rabbinic sources, Midrashic and Talmudic, take the passage as Messianic.

The fulfillment of this prophecy was graphic: the Jews really did have some sort of ruler from the tribe of Judah until the time of the Messiah. Then in 41 BC Rome imposed on them Herod, who was not of that tribe, was by birth half Arab, half Idumean. At first he had the title of Tetrarch, in 37 BC. got the title of King. If the Jews had not been so greatly unfaithful to God so many times over, the fulfillment probably would have been more glorious, with great kings of the line of David, all the way to 41 BC.

Chapter 10: The Book of Exodus

The genre of this book is most likely epic, though some today would completely deny that there was an Exodus at all. Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, in the March-April issue of 1991, reports on the 1990 joint meeting of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the American Schools of Oriental Research. On p. 66 he says the mood of the whole session was almost entirely negative. He said there was a "widespread negative fad" as to what could be said about Israel before the time of the monarchy. He added they would like to deny the existence of Israel before the monarchy. In fact, he said, almost bitterly, they would like to say that Israel did not exist before the time of the kings, and would do that if it were not for the Stele of Pharaoh Merneptah who made a punitive raid into Canaan around 1220, and said Israel was laid waste. It speaks of Israel as a people, not as a nation. This reminds us of the comment of Pope Leo XIII, in his Providentissimus Deus of 1893. In it (EB 123) the Pope complained that those who are willing to see all sorts of errors in Scripture - the report mentioned says the negative people "can dispose of [the Bible] easily", yet they accept ancient secular documents as if there could be no hint of error in them. Actually, we know the boastfulness of ancient kings. No Pharaoh ever lost a battle, if we believe the inscriptions.

In contrast, Nahum M. Sarna, of Brandeis University, in his chapter "Israel in Egypt" in the symposium Ancient Israel, published by the Biblical Archaeology Society in 1988, says (p. 37) "The Egyptian sojourn cannot be fictional." For no matter what we say the genre is, no people would invent a story that they were originally just slaves, and report how unfaithful they were to God over and over again. On the other hand, as we said, no Egyptian King ever admitted a defeat in an inscription - he was a god. So the defeat of the Pharaoh by God in the Exodus would have to be passed over in silence in Egyptian records.

We could, however, say that the purpose of the writing was didactic, to teach God's power and justice as against the failures of His people. Then not every event in the book need be fully historical.

Those who would deny an exodus at all are apt to say there was merely a peasant revolt in Canaan.

But for the above reasons we do hold there was an Exodus. We add that Exodus itself (12:38) tells us that a crowd of mixed ancestry went out of Egypt with the Israelites.

When did the Exodus take place? There are chiefly two kinds of opinions:

1)the most favored view begins with Exodus 1:11 which says that the Israelites built for the Pharaoh two cities, Pithom and Raamses. Raamses may be the same as Avaris-Tanis (But this identification is controverted: Cf. John J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquest, Sheffield, 1978, pp. 35-48). Avaris was deserted after 1500, and was reestablished by Seti I who reigned until around 1300 - there is much disagreement about precise Egyptian chronology. Rameses II began to reign right after Seti. It is known that Rameses carried on extensive building projects, which fits with the use of Hebrews for slave labor. He also moved the capital to the delta region. This fits with the fact that the sister of Moses could easily run to her mother's house when the daughter of Pharaoh found the infant Moses in the river (Ex 2:5- 8). Also the many visits of Moses to the Pharaoh suggest a short distance. Still further when the angel of God slew all the firstborn of Egypt, Pharaoh could call for Moses in the middle of the night, and give orders to leave at once.

Also, toward the end of the reign of Rameses, Egyptian power declined notably, which would make it easier for the Israelites to engage in their attempts to conquer Canaan, than when Thutmose III (1490-36 BC) was on the throne. He conducted extensive campaigns in Canaan.

2)The other theory begins with the fact that 1 Kings 6:1 says that Solomon began to build the temple in the 480th year after the Exodus, in the fourth year of his reign. Since he probably began to reign about 961, the Exodus would come around 1437 BC.

One problem with this view is the fact that 480 looks very much like a round or symbolic number: 12 generations of 40 years each.

If we compare the proposed dates with the time the Israelites spent in Egypt, we come up with confusion. The Hebrew text of Exodus 12:40 says they spent 430 years there. But the Septuagint says that "the dwelling of the sons of Israel which they spent in Egypt and in Canaan [was] 430 years". This fits with Galatians 3:17 which gives 430 years for the period between the promise to Abraham, and the giving of the law on Sinai. That would mean only about 215 years in Egypt.

There are other problems about 430 years in Egypt: Moses and Aaron, according to 1 Chron 5:27-29 were fourth generation descendants of Jacob's son Levi. That would mean three generations with an average of 143 years each. That would clash further with 1 Chron 7:20-27 which says Joshua, the younger associate of Moses, was a 12th generation descendant of Levi's brother Joseph. Then we would have 11 generations from Joseph to Joshua averaging 39 years each. However, to the problems of this paragraph we reply that ancient genealogies were not always like ours, merely family trees. R. Wilson, in Genealogy and History in the Biblical World (Yale, 1977, p. 166) shows that genealogies often were artificial in the ancient world, to bring out relations other than family lines.

As to these figure we can also notice that Pius XII, in Divino afflante Spiritu (EB 559) speaks of Semitic approximation. He is right, the Semites cared little for our precision in dating. We can see that in the way in which St. Paul reports his own activities in Galatians 2:1, where he says he went to Jerusalem again after 14 years - with no indication of whether he counted that from his conversion, from his return from

Arabia, or something else. And the Hebrew of Jonah 3:4 has Jonah threatening destruction to Nineveh in 40 days. But the

Septuagint of the same text said three days. Apparently the symbolic or broad usage made both seem equivalent to the translators of the Septuagint.

It is usual to suggest that Joseph won readier acceptance in Egypt during the time of the foreign rule by the Hyksos, which began around 1720 BC, since they probably included some Semites. But this overlooks the fact that Joseph's acceptance was basically due to divine help in giving him the interpretation of the king's dreams. The Israelites, according to Exodus 1:8, began to have trouble when a new king came on the throne, who did not know Joseph. But any change of dynasty - and there were many - could give the same effect.

Some recent efforts favor the earlier date for the Exodus. John J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquest (cited above) puts the Exodus at about 1470. This solves many problems of archeology about the cities conquered by Joshua, leaving a problem chiefly about Ai and Heshbon. Bimson replies (pp. 215-25) that the later village of Ai may not be the one destroyed by Joshua - for there was often site shift in ancient cities - and adds (p. 69) that Heshbon need not have been a fortified site at the time of Joshua.

In Biblical Archaeology review for Sept-Oct. 1987, Bimson, joined by David Livingston, repeats his proposal, giving a date for Exodus as 1460. This would entail changing the date of the end of Middle Bronze Age II to just before 1400 - it is usually placed around 1550. However, Hershel Shanks, editor of BAR, in the March- April 1989 issue, (p. 54), in his report on the same convention mentioned above, says that Bietak, one of the worlds' leading archaeologists on Egypt, estimates Middle Bronze Age II ended about 1500 -1450 B.C. These articles in BAR have generated much debate, as we would expect.

A major development was reported in BAR, March-April, 1990 by Bryant Wood, "Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho?" He claims the well known work of K. Kenyon was seriously flawed, finds the evidence really supports a fall of Jericho around 1400. In spite of the great reputation of K. Kenyon, this is quite plausible. An interview in BAR, March-April, 1988, "Yigal Shiloh. Last Thoughts" reports on more serious defects in the previous work of Kenyon who had missed important remains in the City of David area of Jerusalem. For this work, Shiloh received the prestigious Jerusalem Prize in Archeology in 1987.

The Israelites are supposed to have lived 38 years at Kadesh- Barnea, the largest oasis in N. Sinai, with many acres today of fruit and nut trees. But no remains have been found there other than three ancient fortresses, the earliest probably from the time of Solomon. Cf. "Did I excavate Kadesh- Barnea" by Rudolph Cohen, in BAR, May-June, 1981, pp. 21-33. He is uncertain if he found the site, found no remains there. However, it is probable that the Israelites were really in Midian at that time - many remains found there. Midian is where Moses fled from Egypt, where he married, where he saw the burning bush.

We mentioned possible site shift. Jericho was abandoned from Hellenistic times, and moved to near the springs of Ain-Sultan, onto the site of modern Jericho (Er-Riha). But in Hellenistic and Roman times, palaces and villas were constructed at still a third site nearby (Tulul Aby el-Alaiq). So there were three Jerichos.

Kenneth Kitchen (The Bible in Its World: The Bible and Archaeology Today, Intervarsity Press, Downer's Grove, IL, 1977, pp. 10-15) offers still more considerations. Commonly a site is not completely excavated, for it is very costly. By 1977 only 1, 1/2 acres of Ashdod had been excavated - it covers 70 acres of lower city and another 10 acres of acropolis. Only 1/10 of the site of Et-Tell, which some think was Ai, had been excavated by the same time.

So we must not be in a hurry to charge errors, with so many possibilities. And of course, the epic genre we suggested leaves room for quite a bit of looseness.

Before the Exodus, God appeared to Moses at the burning bush, and revealed His name, Yahweh. The meaning of the name is debated, it is most likely a verbal form of haya (originally perhaps hwy), meaning "to be". Some would take it as a hiphil form of the verb, meaning "cause to be." So the meaning would be either I am, or I am He who causes things to be.

There is a problem from the fact that in Gen 4:26 we read that "people began to call upon the name of Yahweh." But in Exodus 6:3 God told Moses that he did not reveal His name Yahweh to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A possible solution: M. Dahood, in a long afterword to Archives of Ebla, pp. 276-77, suggests the name was known to northern tradition early on, but only later came to be known to the Egyptian tradition. It is also possible we have an updated form anachronistically inserted at Gen 4:26. It is also possible the name was first known and later forgotten by the time of Abraham.

The word Jehovah is merely a mistake. After the Exile, the Jews developed so great a respect for the sacred name, that the ordinary person never would pronounce it. Instead he would say Adonai, Lord. When the Masoretes centuries later invented the vowel points, they used the points for Adonai with the consonants for Yahweh, so no one by forgetting would pronounce the sacred name. If someone foolishly reads the word as written, it does come out as Jehovah.

About the plagues before the Exodus - some of these things are known to have happened by natural causes before. However, the fact that they happened at specific times in response to the commands of Moses is supernatural.

At what point did the Israelites cross the sea? The Hebrew is yam suph which may mean Reed Sea. However, when these words occur elsewhere they refer to the Red Sea or at least to the Gulf of Aqaba (cf. 1 Kings 9:26). The matter is complicated by the probable presence of variant traditions, which we saw in chapter 4.

Were the Israelites a people before the Exodus and covenant? Their own traditions make Abraham the father of all of them. However, it is clear that these two great experiences did contribute much to a sense of being a special people. (By then other elements had joined themselves to them, as we saw above: Ex 12. 38.

The route they took in the whole period in the desert is likewise uncertain: Exodus does give names, but the location of many of these is uncertain.

At Mt. Sinai they were taught great reverence: Exodus 19:9-15 forbade the people to even touch the mountain - if they did, they must be put to death. (Interesting contrast on the lack of reverence on the part of some today towards the Blessed Sacrament!).

Then God manifested His presence by thunder, lightning, and trumpet blasts and smoke. The people in fear( Ex 20:19) begged that God might speak only through Moses, and not directly to them.

Then the great covenant was made. Through Moses, God spoke (Ex 19. 5): "If you really obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, more so than all people."

Many commentators try to say this covenant was unilateral, not bilateral. They mean God imposed obligations on His people, but did not take any on Himself. They forget that God said, in effect, in 19:5, "If you do this, I will do that." God cannot give His word and then not keep it. So even though technically He does not owe anything to creatures, yet He does owe it to Himself to keep His word. The prophets in the OT often compared God's relation to His people to that of marriage. Thus in Hosea 2:18-25: "And it shall come to pass on that day, says the Lord, you shall call me 'my husband' and never more 'my Baal'... I will betroth you to me forever. '" Again, He said through Jeremiah 2:2 "Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem; I remember the covenant-devotedness [hesed - more on this word presently] of your youth, the love of your espousal." (cf. also Jer 3:1; Ez 16:8; Is 50:1; 62:5). The language of Deuteronomy 26:17-18 is so bold that most versions do not dare to render it literally. The Hebrew uses the causative hiphil form of the verb twice here: "You have caused the Lord today to say He will be a God to you... and the Lord has caused you today to say you will be to Him a people, a special possession... and to keep all His commandments." Such language seems to put God and His people both on the same plane! In spite of their reverential great fear, they also did understand He was their Father. In Is 63:16: "You are our Father. [Even if] Abraham would not know us, and Israel not acknowledge us: you, O God, are our Father, our redeemer is your name from everlasting." Here for redeemer the Hebrew has goel, which means the next of kin who in time of need has both the right and the duty to rescue his family members who are in difficulty. So God by the covenant becomes as it were a member of the family. Cf. Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel (tr. J. McHugh, McGraw Hill, NY, 1961, pp. 21 & 22). The word hesed, which we saw in Jer 2:2, which means the covenant relationship does express precisely that concept. The blood ceremony in which Moses sprinkled the book and people with the blood of the sacrifice indicates the belief they were becoming as it were kinsmen of God: Ex 24:3-8. (Cf. the blood transfusion we now have in the Holy Eucharist).

Interestingly, such a bilateral relationship is known even in paganism. Cyrus Gordon, in The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilizations (Norton, NY, 1965 p. 96) reports how King Hattusili III of the Hittites in His Apology said he and the goddess Ishtar entered into a covenant such that she would protect and advance him in return for his devotion to her, and exaltation of her. Greek heroic literature also has many cases of covenant relationship between a particular man and particular deity, e.g., Anchises and Aphrodite, or Odysseus and Athena. Similar things were common among nomadic tribes: cf. Jensen, op. cit., p. 72.

George Mendenhall, in Biblical Archaeologist 17 (1954,) pp. 26-46 and 49- 76 and in Law and Covenant in the Ancient Near East (Pittsburgh, 1955) saw that there is a well defined pattern in the Hittite treaties of the 13th century: 1)Preamble: the Hittite king is presented, with his titles, 2)Historical prologue: gives foundations for obligations of the vassal, 3)Stipulations: list of obligations of the vassal. The vassal is often told to avoid "murmuring" and must love [=obey] the Sun (Hittite King), 4)Deposit and public reading, perhaps 3 times a year, 5)List of witnesses - numerous gods, 6)Curses and blessings.

But there is no place in the Old Testament in which all of these provisions are found in that order. Rather, the material is spread out a bit. Dennis J. McCarthy, in Treaty and Covenant, (Biblical Institute, Rome, 2nd ed. 1978, esp. pp. 241-76), pointed out correctly that similar situations in different cultures can call forth similar responses.

The covenant does have a legal form, but it was a work of love. For to love is to will good to another for the other's sake. God spelled out what things were needed, in the nature of things, to make the people to open and capable of receiving what He so generously wanted to give. Otherwise, they would run into the evils present in the nature of things for wrongdoing.

Exodus also contains the Ten Commandments and a large body of other laws. Joseph Jensen (op. cit., p. 86) says that the tradition that represents Moses as the great lawgiver in Israel "is undoubtedly an accurate one." But then as society developed, new laws were needed for new situations. However they all kept the same relation to the covenant. This was not deception, it was a way of saying that these things came under the basic authority of Moses. Much later, the oral law, very large, was also attributed to Moses. When we recall the kind of language we saw in chapter 4 from apocalyptic passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel, we will not be surprised at such a way of speaking as that which we see for Moses and laws.

What of the fact that many laws closely resemble older codes, such as that of Hammurabi (c 1725 BC)? The remark of Dennis McCarthy on covenant, cited above, that similar situations call forth similar responses applies here - that is, these laws were framed to cover the same kind of circumstances as those envisioned by Hammurabi's Code. Some laws were given in flat form, and are called apodictic; others were in case law form:... if someone does thus... then.... It is the case laws that most resemble the Code of Hammurabi.

Some authors do not read carefully enough Ex 20:24-25 and Dt 12 and as a result say there is a conflict. Exodus, they say, permits many places of sacrifice, while Dt speaks of only one. But if we read carefully we find that in Dt. 12, especially at verses 10-11, that God tells them that after they have crossed the Jordan and after God has given them rest from their enemies -which would come only in the time of Solomon, then they shall have an altar only in the place which God will choose.

Exodus 12:37 seems to give the number of Israelites who departed in the Exodus as 600, 000 men on foot, not counting women and children. That would probably result in a figure of two to three million total. But the entire population of Egypt at the time was about 3 million. One explanation is that the number comes from gemetria, that is, adding up the numerical value of the letters of bene ysrael, which would be 603, 000. But this does not seem to be consistent with other passages. Another suggestions is to take the word elef to mean families. Still another suggestion is to say the number is magnified, multiplied by ten, for the honor of God. Then we would have 60, 000, a manageable figure. Since the genre seems to be epic, this proposal is quite plausible. Interestingly, the Greek historian, Herodotus, tells us (7. 185) that the Persian army in the second invasion of Greece had 2, 641, 610 fighting men, and that when we add the number of those providing supplies, the grand total was 5, 283, 220 men.

Some are surprised at the talion law - eye for eye etc. - in Ex. 21:23 ff. The answer is that it was actually a means of holding down much more severe measures apt to be taken.

Finally, St. Paul in 1 Cor 10 sees several prefigurings - prophecies by action instead of by words - in Exodus, chiefly, of Baptism and Eucharist. And of course the paschal meal prefigures the Last Supper.

Chapter 11: The Books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy


Leviticus interrupts the narrative of the Exodus. It is almost entirely laws. The Old Testament contains 613 commandments, of which 247 are in Leviticus. If that seems a great number we could think of the output of the U. S. Congress.

The chief things that are not laws are the description of the ordination of Aaron and his sons, and the deaths of sons of Aaron.

Chapter 8 describes the ordination ceremony for Aaron and for his sons. On the octave, the 8th day after the ordination, a special sacrifice was offered.

But in chapter 10 the sons of Aaron offered profane fire, fire that was not holy, to the Lord. Then fire came forth from the presence of the Lord, and slew them. This was to teach the absolute holiness of the Lord: everything must be perfect. Then, remarkably, in chapter 16, God tells Moses that even though Aaron is the High Priest, he must not go freely whenever he wishes into the sanctuary beyond the veil. He must do it only once a year, with the proper ritual, on the day of Atonement.

Again, a powerful lesson in reverence - a contrast with the careless attitude of some towards the Holy Eucharist, immeasurably greater than the mere veil.

The whole book of Leviticus is really concerned with making everything perfect for the Lord. This applies even to the rules of Levitical cleanness, which seem so strange to us, in chapters 11- 15. The rules about unclean animals which were not to be eaten may reflect some ideas of care for health. One item prohibited was pork, and we know that if proper care is not taken, there is danger of trichinosis.

The most remarkable commands in the book are in chapter 4, which, deals with the concept of sheggagah, involuntary sin. Today people are apt to say: If a person acts in good faith, that is all right, do not bother. But Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, takes a different attitude.

Chapter 4 deals with several types of cases in which someone - the priest, the whole community, the prince, a private person - violated a command of God without realizing at the time that he was doing it. When he finds out, reparation must he made by offering a sacrifice of the prescribed type. The NJBC at this point (p. 64) comments well that any sin - whether voluntary or not - is a violation of the covenant relationship. Hence the wrong had to be righted. It was the Holiness of God who loves all that is right in itself that willed this. A text of Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar (from c. 170 A.D., but citing Rabbi Meir, early in the same century, in Tosefta Kiddushin 1:14) says: "He [anyone] has committed a transgression. Woe to him! He has tipped the scale to the side of debt for himself and for the world." The Holiness of God wants this scales rebalanced. A sinner can begin to rebalance by giving back stolen goods, or by giving up a pleasure he could have had, to replace a stolen pleasure. But only a divine Person incarnate could fully rebalance the scale for even one mortal sin. The Father was not obliged to provide this, but He willed to do so. (The concept that sin is a debt is common in the Old Testament, intertestamental literature, in the New Testament - the Our Father - and in Rabbinic and Patristic literature. Pope Paul VI, in his Constitution Indulgentiarum doctrina, of Jan 9, 1967, explicitly taught this need of rebalance. Cf. our comments on debt in chapter 5).

For a sin committed be yad ramah, with a high hand, the Old Testament provided no atoning sacrifice: cf. Numbers 15:30. We think too of the Epistle to the Hebrews 10:4: "It is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take sins away."

It is interesting to review a few instances of the concern for sheggagah.

Genesis 12:17 reports that God struck Pharaoh and his household with severe blows because, in good faith, he had Abram's wife Sarai. Tobit's wife had been given a gift of a goat by her employer, but Tobit (2:13) insisted she give it back, since he merely suspected it was stolen. Psalm 19:12-13 says: "Even though your servant is very careful in keeping them [the commandments], yet: Who can detect his unknown transgressions [shegioth]? Purify me from my unknown faults."

In the intertestamental literature, the Testament of Levi (3:5) speaks of the archangels, "who minister and make propitiation... for the ignorant sins of the righteous." The Psalms of Solomon (3:8-9) says the just man constantly searches his house "to completely remove all iniquity he has done in error. He makes atonement for ignorance by fasting and by afflicting his soul."

Our Lord Himself in Luke 12:47-48 says: "The slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready to fulfill it will get a severe beating. But the one who did not know it but did things [objectively] deserving blows will get off with fewer blows." In the picture of the last judgment in Matthew 15:44, those on the left plead ignorance - their plea is rejected. In 1 Cor 15:9 St. Paul calls himself the least of the apostles for persecuting the Church - which he did in ignorance, thinking he was zealous for God. In 1 Cor 4:4 Paul says: "I have nothing on my conscience, but that does not mean that I am innocent." He means he may have committed sins without realizing it.

Patristic literature has many instances. Pope St. Clement I, in his Epistle to Corinth 2:3 "You stretched out your hands to the almighty God, begging Him to be propitious, in case you had sinned at all unwillingly." Clement of Alexandria (Stromata 6:6) says if one repents, God will forgive sins of ignorance. The Eastern Rite Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom has a prayer before the Epistle: "Forgive us every offense, both voluntary and involuntary."


Numbers takes up again the narrative of Exodus, with some additional laws interspersed, usually in some relation to the matter of the narrative. At the end of the book, the Israelites are opposite Jericho.

Miriam and Aaron oppose the authority of Moses in chapter 12. They said it was not only through Moses that God spoke: He also spoke through them too (What a modern picture!). God rebuked them at the meeting tent. When He left, Miriam was a leper. Moses prayed for forgiveness; God ordered her to be confined outside the camp for seven days, and then she was cured.

In the next chapter, 13, spies are sent out to look over the land. After 40 days they returned, and said the land indeed flowed with milk and honey, but the people were giants, and the cities strongly fortified. The people believed the report, and wanted to return to Egypt. Moses and Aaron fell prostrate in prayer. Joshua and Caleb, who had been among the scouts, told the truth about the land. God gave the others a punishment: Only Joshua and Caleb would be allowed to enter the land. The rest must turn back to the desert, and remain 40 years until all would have died off, except Joshua and Caleb.

Another revolt, in chapter 16, was led by Korah, joined by Dathan and Abiron. Moses challenged them to a test: they were to take their censers to offer incense; Aaron would do the same. Then he called on God to make known His will. The earth opened and swallowed up Korah and the men who belonged to him. Then fire came forth and killed 250 who were part of the revolt.

With incredible hardness, the next morning the people murmured that Moss had killed the people of the Lord!. So God sent a plague that consumed 14,700 people. Aaron offered incense, and the plague stopped.

When they came to Kadesh (chapter 20), Miriam died. the people murmured again, for lack of water. Moses and Aaron at God's order assembled them before a rock. Moses struck the rock twice, and water came out. God told them because they were not faithful - perhaps a lack of faith in striking the rock twice, when once was enough - neither Moses nor Aaron would enter the promised land.

Moses sent a request to the King of Edom to allow them to pass through - Edom was descended from Esau, brother of Jacob. Edom refused, so the Israelites detoured. When they came to Mount Hor, Moses took away the priestly robes of Aaron and put them on his son Eleazar. Then Aaron died. Soon the people murmured again. God sent saraph serpents which bit them, so that they died. Moses prayed for help. God told him to make a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole. Anyone bitten who would look at the serpent would live.

This of course was a prefiguration of the cross, which brings salvation to all. Some have worried that the first commandment forbade making images - and here Moses made one, by order of God. But we must notice that the command was not against all images, but only forbade making images to worship. After some victories by the Israelites, Balak, King of Moab, sent for a pagan seer, Balaam, and offered him pay to curse the Israelites. God warned Balaam not to do so, and he refused the king's offer. The princes of Moab came a second time. God told Balaam he might go with them, but had to do what God ordered. Balaam's ass balked at going, and Balaam beat the ass. Then God opened the mouth of the ass, and the ass protested at the beating. Balaam said he would have killed the ass if he had had a sword. Then an angel appeared to Balaam, told him to go ahead, but speak only what God willed. So, Balaam blessed the Israelites. The King of Moab protested. Balaam then blessed Israel again. Balak again protested. But Balaam gave an oracle saying: "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter out of Israel. It will crush the brow of Moab and the skulls of the sons of Sheth. Edom shall be conquered, and Seir conquered... but Israel shall grow strong."

Even Targum Onkelos, which is sparing in seeing Messianic prophecies, along with the other Targums, sees that the star was a prediction of the Messiah.

Soon many Israelites worshipped Baal of Peor in Moab, and had illicit relations with the women there as part of the worship. God ordered them executed for this. Twenty-four thousand died.


Deuteronomy is in a way an in-between book, it is the conclusion to the Pentateuch, but it also looks forward to Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings. It does this by its insistence on rewards and punishment for keeping or violating the Law, and for its almost fervent pleas to keep the Law.

Deuteronomy uses the literary form of a series of speeches by Moses, when the Israelites are on the point of entering the promised land. It ends with the death of Moses. Some have foolishly said that therefore Moses could not have written it. But it is evident that if he did write Deuteronomy - we are not sure - another hand could have added that last bit, much like the case of the last chapter of the Gospel of John.

The name Deuteronomy comes from the Greek title, which means "second law". It is essentially a resume of the previous story of the Exodus and the desert years.

Second Kings 22-23 reports that in about 622 B.C. during the reign of Josiah King of Judah, a law book was discovered in the temple. When Josiah heard it, he said the Lord must be angry, for they were not fulfilling it. So he had it read in the temple before all, and renewed the covenant, and carried out a religious reform. Many think the book found was Deuteronomy, perhaps only the second address of Moses, which is 4:44 to 26:19. The same account is given also in 2 Chronicles 34-35. That version seems to say the reform began even before the finding of the book. But when we consider the genre of these works, such a difference is not significant. The great purpose of the books is to teach that fidelity to God brings reward, infidelity brings punishment. Many examples are given to bring out and underscore this theme.

Some think that when the northern kingdom fell with the fall of Samaria in 721, Levites fled south carrying deuteronomic traditions. Such a circle would have been present during the time of the good king Hezekiah (715- 687). Hezekiah made a reform anticipating that of Josiah. But then the evil king Manasseh went back to pagan practices and even persecuted those loyal to God: cf. 2 Kings 21. So the loyal went underground, and put their traditions into a book, the one found under Josiah. We should notice that when the Israelites were under Assyria, they would be required by Assyria to put the worship of Assyrian gods into Jerusalem.

In chapter 4, Moses strongly urges the people to keep the Law, for then the other nations will say: This is really a wise and intelligent people for having such a law. Psalm 119 is nothing but an extended praise of the law. Later Judaism highly praised wisdom, and even personified it, e.g., in Wisdom 9:9-18: "With thee is wisdom, who knows thy works, and who was present when thou didst make the world... Send her forth from the holy heavens... For she knows and understands all things... For the reasoning of mortals is worthless... for a perishable body weighs down the soul, and this earthly tent burdens the thoughtful mind."

The idea that the law contains wisdom is wonderfully true. For God does not give His commands just to exercise authority: our obedience does Him no good. Yet He wants us to obey for two reasons: 1)His Holiness loves all that is right and good, and it is right and good that creatures obey their Creator; 2)He, being Generosity, loves to give us abundant good things. But His giving is all in vain if we are not open to receive. His commandments explain what is needed to be open to receive. They also steer us away from the evils we would encounter in the very nature of things if we did not obey. For example, after a drunk comes a headache; after much premarital sex, there is great danger of a loveless marriage. For to love is not a feeling - even though feelings tend to go along with it - rather it is to will good to another for the other's sake. To use another's body for sensory pleasure, thereby putting him/her into a state such that if death came, they would be miserable forever - this is not willing good, it is closer to the opposite. Hence St. Augustine wrote well, in Confessions 1. 2: "Every disordered soul is its own punishment."

The Shema is found in Dt. 6:4-5: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength." Every Israelite would recite this daily. As we learned from the Hittite treaties, to love God meant to obey Him.

The most dominant feature of Deuteronomic theology appears strongly in 4:24-27. Moses tells them that if after they have entered the land they make and worship an idol: "I call to witness against you heaven and earth, that you will quickly perish utterly from the land... The Lord will scatter you among the peoples and you will be left few in number." Dt. 29:21-27 repeats the threat in even more dramatic form: The Lord will make the land sulphur and salt. "And the nations will ask: Why did the Lord do this to this land?... And the answer will be: Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt." Later, in 1 Kings 9, when Solomon had completed the great temple, God appeared to him and said He would put his eyes and heart there for all time. But He added that if Solomon or his children would turn and not keep the commandments, then: "I will cut off Israel from the land I gave them and will cast out of my sight the temple which I have consecrated to my name. Israel will become a proverb among all peoples... They will say: Why did the Lord do in this way to this land and to this house? Then they will say: Because they forsook the Lord their God who brought their fathers up out of the land of Egypt."

The same sad and frightening threat appears again in almost the same words in Jeremiah 22:4-9. Finally Our Lord Himself wept over Jerusalem (Lk 19:41- 44): "And approaching it, and seeing the city, He wept over it saying: "If you yourself had known in this day the things that are for your well-being. But now, they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you and your enemies will surround you with a palisade and will straiten you on every side and will cast you down to the ground, you and your children in you, and will not leave a stone upon a stone, because you did not know the time of your visitation."

Some foolish commentators, convinced there can be nothing supernatural, no such a thing as a real prophecy, say this prophecy of our Lord is so clear, it must have been made up after the event. They forget that in any ancient siege this is the normal thing: an army surrounds the city until it no longer can hold out. Compare also the sad implications of the images of the two olive trees in the Epistle to the Romans, 11: 17-18.

In Dt. 5:2-3 Moses told them that God made the covenant not just with their fathers, but was making it with them that day. Since the covenant is a two- sided pact, this is clear: God wanted them to ratify the same covenant He had once made with their ancestors (cf. Ex. 19:5).

In Dt. 5:9-10 we meet the mysterious promise of God to punish the iniquity of the fathers down to the third or fourth generation, but to bless the good for a thousand generations. How does this fit with the later words of God to Jeremiah, in 31:29-30, saying that they must reject the proverb: the Fathers ate sour grapes, and the teeth of the children are set on edge. Rather, each one will suffer only for his own iniquity?

There is no problem with the favorable side, blessings for a thousand generations. But as to the punishment for three or four generations, even though God does not positively inflict it upon children for the sins of their parents, according to His words to Jeremiah, yet the effect is apt to happen in other ways. First, children brought up by wicked parents are apt to learn the bad ways of the parents. Also because a predisposition to sin, even to crime, can be transmitted by biochemical inheritance. We see this from a remarkable report in Science News (August 20-1983, pp. 122- 25) telling how a chemist from Argonne Laboratories went to Stateville Prison, in Illinois, took hair samples from violent criminals, found a remarkable correlation between highs and lows of some trace elements and violent behavior. (Cf. a similar report in Science News of Nov. 10, 1990, p. 293, on data from Archives of General Psychiatry of November, 1990).

Some are shocked at the severity of the ban (Hebrew herem), a theme found in many places, e.g. in Dt. 7:1-5, where God ordered them to destroy the nations in the land of Canaan, without mercy. Two things are to be noticed. First, God wants them to be free of the temptation - which later experience showed was fatal - of joining in the idolatrous worship of those nations. Second, God is the supreme Lord of life. If He wills to end the lives of any persons, that is His right. And we recall that in Genesis 15:16 God promised to give them the land, but not until after the fourth time-span (Hebrew dor, which can mean either generation or period of time). He said He would wait, because the sins of the Amorites had not yet reached their fullness. For even one mortal sin, a person merits death. If his sins reach their fullness, go the limit, this is all the more fully true. As to the deaths of children: life is a moment to moment gift from God. If He just stops giving, or uses a human instrument to end it, there is nothing wrong.

Finally, there is the dramatic account in chapter 34 of the death of Moses at the age of 120. He went up Mt. Nebo and saw the promised land, but God had told him because of an infidelity (Numbers 20:11-12) he would not be permitted to enter it. So by command of God Moses died there.

Chapter 12: The Books of Joshua, Judges and Ruth


It is common today to say that the book of Joshua had a complex history. This means not only the use of the sources JEP, but also of other old traditions. A major reason for this claim is the fact that there are so many parallels between Moses and Joshua: both sent out spies to investigate; both crossed waters miraculously; both held a special Passover celebration; both had a vision tell him to remove shoes, because he was standing on holy ground; both supported the victory of the army by holding up hands or a rod; both gave farewell discourses to the people.

But really, here we see another case of the weakness of mere internal evidence for a favored position. Of course, those parallels exist. But is it so unlikely that the events were real in both cases? There is nothing very remarkable about any or all of the cases, given the fact that both men are special delegates of God. In the opening part of the book, at 1:5 God tells Joshua: "As I was with Moses, so will I be with you." The very last lines of Deuteronomy record that Moses laid his hands on Joshua and so Joshua was filled with the spirit of wisdom.

Then there are the archaeological problems of cities said to have been conquered by Joshua. We saw above, in chapter 10, that new research now seems to solve the chief problem, that about Jericho.

Another problem city is that of Ai, which Joshua is said to have destroyed (8:1-29). It has been usual to identify Ai with Et-Tell, where no ruins have been located at a time suitable for the Exodus (let us recall from chapter 10 that the date of the Exodus is far from settled). John J. Bimson (Redating the Exodus and Conquest, Sheffield, 1978, pp. 215-25 gives impressive, even if not conclusive evidence, to show that the real location is at Beitin, still to be excavated. (cf. also the article by J. Bimson and D. Livingston, in BAR, Sept-Oct, 1987, pp. 40ff, and attacks in BAR Nov- Dec. 1987, and BAR Mar-April, 1988, and reply by D. Livingston in BAR Jan- Feb. 1989. The language of the two attacking articles is so intemperate as to damage the reader's confidence in the attackers. Thus the article of Mar-April, 1988 says that even the slashing attack in Nov-Dec. 1987 "does too much honor to the 'lunatic fringe' growing around the archaeology of Palestine").

Actually a 15th century date - Bimson has proposed 1460 - fits better with the archaeological evidence than a 13th century date, which is the more favored one. The archaeological evidence fits well with the following cities with a 15th century date: Jericho, Bethel, Hazor, Debir, Lachish, Hebron, Hormah, Dan. We have already commented on Ai, and we noted above that the base for the 13th century theory is not as solid as some think.

We do not mean to say we have refuted the claims of several sources in Joshua. We merely wish to point out that the evidence for them is weak. The actual genre as we said before, is probably something similar to epic, in contrast to Judges, which seems more sober. Really, the book of Joshua itself admits that not all the land was conquered - 13:1 says the Lord told Joshua that Joshua was by then very old, and much of the land still remained to be conquered.

A fascinating problem comes at 10:12: Joshua, to be able to complete the victory over the enemy, prayed that the sun might stand still, and it did. But this is hard to interpret, for the text itself adds: "Is not this recorded in the Book of Jashar"? So inspiration would guarantee only that such a thing was recorded in a nonbiblical account. It would not guarantee that the nonbiblical account was true, especially since the words are in poetic form. Without comment in either direction, we might add that a heavily controversial Russian scientist, I. Velikovsky, in a 1950 book, Worlds in Collision, proposed the theory that what is now the planet Venus was some other celestial body that strayed into the solar system, made a close pass at the earth, causing the rotation to reverse, and then settled down as a planet. A good physicist would admit that such a reversal was possible - most scientists today (though not all) deny it really happened. If it happened, there would be a double length day on one side of the globe, a double night on the other. Strangely, the 5th century B.C. Greek historian, Herodotus, asserts (in 2:142) that the Egyptian priests had told him that within a period of 11,340 years, the place of the rising and setting of the sun had shifted four times.

Near the end of the book, at 24:16-28, Joshua made a renewal of the covenant at Shechem. An interesting question arises here. There is no mention in the book of a conquest of Shechem by Joshua. If the city was at the time inhabited - which is debated - would there have been some special arrangement needed to let Joshua conduct this large ceremony there? Some think Shechem was already Israelite centuries before. They appeal to Genesis 48:22 where the dying Jacob gives Shechem to Joseph.


In a way the genre of Judges seems quite different from that of Joshua. And it surely is different. Yet, as we saw, Joshua 13:1 admits Joshua did not conquer all the land.

The book seems to be a collection of stories with a deuteronomic purpose - that is, to show that sin brings punishment, repentance brings forgiveness. In such a pattern, exactness of detail might not be considered important. Many times over through one of the judges, God brought deliverance when repentance came. The theme is set in general form in the second chapter. In the first 3 verses, "an angel of the Lord" tells them in the name of God that they have not kept the covenant: therefore, God would not defeat all the enemies of the land as He had said He would. Verses 10-23 say the same: A new generation came that did not know the Lord and what He had done for them. They worshipped the Baals and God was angry: He would not clear out their enemies as He would had done otherwise.

A major judge was the woman Deborah. As punishment for false worship, God had let the Israelites fall into the hands of King Jabin of Hazor. At that time Deborah was functioning as a sort of judicial judge, sitting under a palm tree and hearing cases. She sent for Barak and told him God commanded that he fight against Jabin. Barak was unwilling to do so unless she would come with him. The king's general Sisera came out with 900 iron chariots. The Lord put Sisera to rout. He fled to the tent of Jael, wife of the Kenite Heber, and rested there. But when Sisera went to sleep: Jael drove a tent peg through his head and killed him - in violation of the sacred rule of hospitality. In the next chapter we read the Canticle of Deborah, which recounts basically the same event.

The next judge was Gideon. God had handed over the Israelites to Midian for seven years. The Midianites made it almost impossible for Israel to have food, for they came and took whatever they had. While Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press to save it from the Midianites, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, told him he would save his people. God gave Gideon two miraculous signs to assure him He was with Him. At first Gideon had over 30, 000 troops. God insisted he must reduce them to only 300 men - to show that it was by God's power, not theirs, that victory would come. Gideon employed a clever stratagem, and did win the victory.

In this account we see for the second time a remarkable pattern of speech. At times the text says an angel of God spoke to Gideon; at other times, it is God Himself who speaks. We saw the same thing in chapter 2. This pattern has led many to say that the words "angel of the Lord" are only a literary device: that there are no separate beings called angels. We agree the pattern could suggest that. However, it become abundantly clear from later parts of the Old Testament, and throughout the New Testament, that angels are separate beings. Since it is a general rule that we must understand Scripture with the eyes of the original readers, we must admit there are angels. The fact that the angels often appeared in human form, e.g., to Tobit, led to hesitation among the Fathers of the Church. But finally it became clear that angels have no bodies.

A special case is that of Samson. His birth was announced to his mother by an angel of the Lord, who commanded that he be a Nazarite from birth, and that no razor should touch his head. Samson possessed astounding physical strength: he even tore a lion apart with his bare hands. But he lost it by infidelity to the Lord. He married a Philistine woman, Delilah, who beguiled him into telling how he could lose his strength: by having his hair cut. She arranged to have that done while Samson was asleep; the Philistines made him prisoner, put out his eyes, forced him to work grinding grain. After a while, his hair began to grow again. The Philistines put on a banquet, and wanted to have Samson amuse them. He asked a boy who was leading him to bring him to the pillars that were the support of the hall. He asked God to give back his strength, received it, shook the pillars, and died in the ruins with a great number of Philistines.

The story of Samson at first sight does not seem to fit the usual pattern of the judges. Samson did not lead forces against the enemies of Israel. Yet God made use of even Samson's sin to bring the deaths of many of the Philistines.

So the 'Judges" were not in general judicial officers, they were mostly charismatic leaders that is, leaders with a special divine mission to do the work God intended.


Sometime during the period of the Judges, Elimelech went from Bethlehem to Moab during the time of a famine, along with his wife Naomi and two sons. He died in Moab. His sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. When the two husbands died, Naomi wanted to go back to Bethlehem, and her devoted daughter in law Ruth went with her. Back in Bethlehem, a wealthy landowner, Boaz, found Ruth attractive, and married her. Their son was Obed, the grandfather of King David.

The story is charming. Was it historical?. That is debated. We notice the Hebrews put the book in the third group called Writings. It has many Aramaic forms for so short a book. Even if it may not be historical, it does preserve a real tradition about the ancestry of David, and hence of Jesus. In Jewish liturgy it is read on the feast of Pentecost.

Chapter 13: The Books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles and Ezra- Nehemiah

The two books of Samuel were probably originally one book, and similarly for the two books of Kings. Some versions, following the Septuagint, call these same books the four books of Kings.

The pattern in these books is the familiar deuteronomic picture: sin brings punishment, repentance and good bring salvation. They are basically historical, with perhaps a bit of freedom since they are written chiefly to give the deuteronomic message, with illustrations from history.

Samuel was born of a mother who had long been sterile, but obtained him by prayer. He proved to be the last of the judges, the first of the prophets. When he was still quite young, she gave him to the service of the temple at Shiloh, where Eli was the priest. While there, God spoke to him, and told him of the doom awaiting the house of Eli because of the wickedness of Eli's sons, who died in the battle of Aphek, c. 1050.

In 4:3 we meet a strange line (if we translate the Hebrew literally - most versions soften it). When the battle was over the Hebrews said: "Why did the Lord strike us today before the face of the Philistines?" They knew well the Philistines had hit them, but it was common to attribute to the direct action of God things He only permitted - we saw this in the case of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart before the Exodus.

After the defeat, the Hebrews brought the ark of the covenant, hoping it would protect them. But the Philistines defeated them and captured the ark itself. But God sent plagues upon the Philistines, so that they returned the ark, along with gold ornaments, in reparation. Strangely, when the ark did return, it was neglected until David later brought it to Jerusalem.

The defeats were making clear that the loose organization of Israel, held together chiefly by having a central shrine, could hardly match the skilled Philistines, who also had a monopoly of iron working (1 Sam. 13:19-22).

Further, when the people saw that the sons of Samuel, by then old, were corrupt, they asked him for a king. He was reluctant, and God was displeased, yet he did give them a king. (there is no conflict between the attitudes shown in chapters 8 and 9 as is often charged: God and Samuel regret, but grant the request).

In 1 Sam 9:14-27, God reveals to Samuel His choice, Saul. In chapter 10, Samuel goes through the ritual of choosing a king by lot - of course, God managed the lots. (Normally it is wrong to call on lots to learn God's will, unless there is a special divine inspiration). Saul was made king at Gilgal, c. 1020.

For a time, Saul had considerable victories over the Philistines. But soon he disobeyed twice. First when Samuel did not come in time to offer sacrifice before a battle, Saul did it himself (13:8-15). Samuel reproached him saying: "Obedience is better than sacrifice." The outward sign, the offering of an animal, is valuable only if it expresses the interior disposition, which is basically obedience to God. This was true even of the sacrifice of Jesus: Rom 5:19. So Samuel meant that without obedience, the offering was worthless, and worse. Later, in chapter 15, Saul violated the ban, in saving King Agag of Amalek and the best sheep. Saul pleaded he only wanted the sheep for sacrifice. Samuel again rejected his plea, told him again, God would not continue his dynasty. There is no reason why Saul, in stubbornness, could not have done both things, so claims of a clash here are not warranted.

We ask why God rejected Saul's dynasty for these two sins, but did not reject David for greater sins, adultery, covered by what amounted to murder. The answer lies in a distinction of two orders, the external, and the internal order. The external order deals with what position a person will have, e.g., king, legal specialist, scholar etc. The interior order is concerned with the attainment of eternal salvation. Since God wills all to be saved (1 Tim 2:4), he offers grace in this interior order very abundantly. We receive all those graces which we do not reject. But in the exterior order, the rule is that the Spirit gives what He wills, where He wills (cf. 1 Cor 12:11). We do not know the reason for the choice of David, but he was, after the sins we mentioned, unusually meek and holy. Perhaps God wanted such a one to be an ancestor of His Son.

Then, in chapter 17, David, a young man, slew the Philistine giant, Goliath. Saul seemed happy at first, but when the women went out singing: "Saul slew his thousands, David his ten thousands", Saul became jealous, probably insanely jealous. He pursued David to kill him. He even killed the priests of Nob for having aided David.

At the cave of Adullam, David could have easily killed Saul, but did not do so, saying meekly he would not touch the anointed one of the Lord. A second incident of the same sort is told in chapter 24.

After this, Samuel died. Soon Saul had to face a large Philistine force. He went to a medium at Endor, asked her to call up the spirit of Samuel. She did, and Samuel told him he and his sons would be killed in battle the next day. Among them died Jonathan, who had been a fast friend of David.

Soon after the death of Saul, c. 1000 BC, Judah accepted David as king in Hebron. Later the northern tribes also accepted him.

David then conquered Jerusalem, made it his capital, brought the ark there.

One day David chanced to see a woman washing herself on a nearby roof. It was Bathsheba, wife of Uriah. David sent for her, and she conceived. To cover up, he invited Uriah to dine with him, hoping he would go to his wife, and thus the sin would be covered up. Uriah did not. So David had him put in the front line in battle, deserted, so he would die. Nathan the prophet came and rebuked David, who promptly repented.

In his last years, David's son Absalom, after winning people over by flattery, proclaimed himself king. David ordered his forces to spare Absalom, but they did not. David wept bitterly.

Near the very end, another son, Adonijah, proclaimed himself king. But Bathsheba, with the help of Nathan, induced David to appoint their son Solomon as king, and to crown him at once.

David had wanted to build a temple to the Lord, but Nathan in an oracle told him instead that the Lord would build a house, an everlasting dynasty, for him (2 Sam. 7). His son Solomon, under whom Israel reached a height of prosperity greater than before or since, did build that temple. After he dedicated it, God told Solomon of His pleasure, but also warned that if he or his successors proved unfaithful, He would take his presence from there, destroy the temple, and scatter them over the earth (1 Kings 9).

God offered Solomon any gift, Solomon asked for wisdom. Yet in spite of that, he because fatuous later on, married many foreign wives, and built shrines for their gods. Of course the people gladly joined in the false worship, to which they were so prone.

Therefore (1 Kings 11) God told Solomon there would be a punishment, but not in his lifetime, because of the goodness of David.

The punishment came in a special way. When Solomon died, Judah readily accepted his son Rehoboam as king. But the northern tribes assembled at Shechem and asked Rehoboam to modify the harsh taxes and forced labor Solomon had imposed on them (1 Kings 12). His father's advisors urged him to comply, but his younger friends said otherwise. He told them: My father beat you with whips, I will beat you with scorpions. The punishment was withdrawal of light to Rehoboam (cf. Isaiah 29:14).

The northern kingdom withdrew, creating a split that never healed. They chose Jeroboam as their king. He built shrines at Dan and Bethel, each with a golden bull, to keep people from going to Jerusalem. The northern kingdom lasted until 721. King Hoshea, foolishly hoping for help from Egypt, refused tribute to Assyria. Then Assyria took Samaria, and brought the northern kingdom to an end.

The remainder of the books of Kings tell a sad, and mostly dull tale: all the kings of the north followed in the footsteps of the sins of Jeroboam. Of the southern kings, only Hezekiah and Josiah escape criticism. To reward Hezekiah, God protected Jerusalem from being taken by Sennacherib of Assyria in 701; Josiah too was good ruler, but thinking Assyria was weakened (and it was) tried for independence, and failed. He himself died in the battle of Megiddo in 609, trying to keep Egypt from aiding Assyria. His son Jehoiakim (609-598) undid his father's reform. Judah became a vassal of Assyria. Assyria fell to a coalition of Babylonians and Medes. When Jehoiakim thought Babylon was weak, he revolted. He was dead by the time Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon came down in 597 and sacked the temple and city, deported thousands of upper-class citizens and the next king, Jehoiakin, son of Jehoiakim. Nebuchadnezzar put on the throne the weak Zedekiah. He refused the advice of Jeremiah. Nebuchadnezzar came again in 587, deported more leading citizens, left only some of the country's poor.

There is a bright spot in the otherwise dull story of the kings: the cycles of stories about Elijah (1 Kings, 17:1 - 19-21) and Elisha (2 Kings 2:1 - 8:29). Elijah was the great prophet whose coming at the end is foretold by Sirach 48:10, Malachi 3:23-24, and by Our Lord Himself in Matthew 17. He also appeared with Jesus at the transfiguration. Elisha is praised briefly in Sirach 48:12- 15. So they were real figures. Some, unfortunately, speak of their stories as mere legends.

The two books of Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah form a unit, and were probably originally one. The separation of Ezra and Nehemiah came centuries later.

The Chronicler - for we may think of the author of all four parts by that name - had a purpose different from that of the deuteronomists: he wanted to show that worship like that conducted by David, with full observance of purity laws, was the way to insure the future of Israel. The dynasty of David was gone, so this was the real means of unity. Hence the Chronicler devotes much space to the reign of David, and does not mention his sins.

The opening chapters of First Chronicles is largely just genealogies, from Adam to the start of the monarchy. Detailed coverage starts only with the beginning of the rule of David. Then the narrative runs closely parallel to Samuel and Kings, which are drawn on extensively, except that information on the northern kings is practically absent.

Cyrus of Persia in 539, as part of a more enlightened policy, allowed the Hebrews to return from exile, and encouraged them to rebuild their temple. The ten northern tribes did not return, they had been absorbed. But Judah and Benjamin did go back. However, they did not at once rebuild the temple, so God urged them through the prophet Haggai in 520, and then the temple was completed in 515. There had been opposition from the Persian governor of Samaria, which was finally resolved when the decree of Cyrus was found in the royal archives, searched by command of King Darius.

The second major event was the reordering of Jewish life in Jerusalem, through the work of Ezra and Nehemiah. Here chronology is a problem. Ezra 7:1ff says Ezra's ministry started in the seventh year of Artaxerxes; Nehemiah 2:1 says Nehemiah's work began in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes. The trouble is that there were three Persian kings with that name.

Nehemiah 8 describes a week-long occasion when Ezra read the Law to the assembled people, while the Levites explained it. Some scholars think this work of the Levites was really the beginning of Targums - for many of the Jews during the exile had changed from the Hebrew to the Aramaic language.

Both Ezra (9-10) and Nehemiah (13:23-27) denounced marriages of Jews to nonJews. Ezra actually called on them to dismiss their foreign wives and children!

There has been much discussion of the original structure of this four part work. The reconstruction by F. M. Cross "A Reconstruction of Jewish Restoration," in Journal of Biblical Literature (94 [1975] 4-18) has won much favor. He proposed three stages: 1)First and Second Chronicles, after chapter 9, was composed between 520, when the temple foundation was laid, and its completion in 515; 2)The work of Ezra, half a century later; 3) Near 400 B.C., a final editor inserted the memoirs of Nehemiah and added the genealogies of First Chronicles 1-9.

Chapter 14: The preexilic Prophets

Introduction: The word prophet has at least two senses in the Old Testament. There are ecstatic prophets, and classic prophets.

The ecstatic prophets are marked by odd, even frenzied behavior. In 1 Samuel 19:20-14 David had just escaped, for the time, the hands of Saul. But Saul sent messengers to arrest him. The messengers found Samuel seeming to lead a band of frenzied prophets. The messengers fell into frenzy too. Saul himself then pursued, but the "spirit of God" came upon him, and he fell into the same state. He took off his clothes and lay naked all that day and night.

Was this really a spirit of God, or merely what the onlookers would call that? It is hard to imagine the spirit of God leading to uncontrollable frenzy and making a king lie naked all day and night. In 1 Cor 14 St. Paul speaks much of prophets, and compares the gift of tongues to them, unfavorably for tongues. Paul speaks of a supernatural gift of prophecy, and even then, in 14:32-33 we find: "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets; God is not a God of uproar but of peace." Such then is the nature of really supernatural prophecy, at least, such as it was known to St. Paul. Such an example as that of 1 Samuel 19 does not seem to be of supernatural origin especially since the spirits of the prophets in 1 Samuel seem not to be subject to the prophets. As to the statement that Samuel was leading them, he could have fallen into a nonsupernatural frenzied state, or could have feigned it, to protect David from Saul.

The ecstatic type of prophets in the times of the kings were often in large groups, of even 400 at a time. Their prophecy might be induced by music. Kings often consulted them, and at times they gave messages such as the kings wanted, showing that at least in such cases there was nothing supernatural about their state. In other cultures there are similar phenomena, e.g., the dervishes.

Even Abraham is called a prophet in Genesis 20:7 and the whole people of Israel are called prophets in Psalm 105:15. So the term is not entirely precise. Before the great prophets there were lesser nonecstatic prophets, such as Samuel (except for the case mentioned), Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah, and Nathan.

But it is clear that the classic prophets, of the type of Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are very different from the ecstatic prophets. Amos explicitly says (7:12-16) he is not a prophet - he meant he was not an ecstatic prophet.

The call of a prophet may have come by way of a vision (e.g., Isaiah 6), or also through an interior communication. Such an experience enabled the prophet to understood God in a way not given to others. Thus they had a basis for judging events in God's way. So the prophet was a spokesman for God. The image of Ezekiel eating a scroll given him by God (2:8 - 3:3. cf. also Jer 15:16) is probably a way of expressing this. Foretelling the future was not the basic work of a prophet, it was only part of his whole message.

The books of the greatest prophets are collections of things they had said on various occasions. The collections could have been made by others, e.g., Baruch for Jeremiah. It is not always easy to determine the original setting. And continuity may be poor, especially in Jeremiah. The fact that so many prophetic utterances were in poetry makes it more difficult to understand them, for they may indulge in poetic fancy.

Besides the exaggerations of poetry - and Semitic poets at that - we need to keep some other things in mind to understand the prophecies of the future. St. Augustine, in City of God 17. 3, notices that some predictions refer to Old Testament persons, some to New Testament persons, some to both. He finds an indication of this latter when something that at first sight would seem to refer to a certain figure, does not entirely fit him, e.g., the prophecy of Nathan to David in 2 Samuel 7:12 speaks of a successor who will come "after David sleeps with his fathers." At first sight this would seem to be Solomon. But Augustine notices that Solomon became king not after David's death, but before it: so he concludes the prophecy is only partly fulfilled in Solomon: we must look ahead also to Christ. And only Christ would have the kind of realm and reign predicted (cf. Psalm 72:8, which is entitled, "Of Solomon").

Further, some predictions may have a less glorious fulfillment than it might have been, e.g., Gen. 49:10, as we saw, says a ruler will not be lacking from Judah until the time of the Messiah. This came true, but would have had a much more glorious fulfillment, in splendid kings on the throne of David, if the Jews had not been so unfaithful so many times.

Amos: Amos began his mission around 760. He foretold the punishment of the northern kingdom - it fell in 721 with the fall of Samaria. So it was announced far in advance, ample time for people to reform, and also to say: He has been threatening in vain for so many years, a prophet of doom and gloom.

Amos came from the town of Tekoa, about 12 miles south of Jerusalem. He had been a shepherd, but he ministered in the northern kingdom.

His speech opened dramatically. God said through him:

"For three crimes of Damascus and for four, I will not take back my word... ." This was a threat against Aram or Damascus. He continued with such threats against other gentile nations, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. His hearers were probably pleased to hear the gentiles denounced. But then he turned on Israel (with perhaps - the authenticity is debated - a prophecy against Judah in between). He accused them of crimes against the poor and the powerless. They thought their sacrifices would make up for it all, and the fact that God has chosen their nation. Amos shattered their illusions. In fact, early in chapter 1, he said the very fact that they had had special favor and proved unworthy, called for greater punishment.

Then (chapter 7) Amaziah, a priest of Bethel, reported to king Jeroboam what was going on: Amos was foretelling Jeroboam would die by the sword, and the people would go into exile. So Amaziah told Amos to go back to Judah where he came from. Amos replied that he was no prophet - that is, not an ecstatic type, nor did he belong to a company of prophets - he was just a shepherd.

Yet at the end of his prophecy, Amos says God will not completely destroy Jacob, there will be a remnant, and God will raise up the fallen hut of David. He will send the Messiah.

Two comments: 1) We noted the repeated lines, "for three crimes and for four". The Hebrew poets thought it artistic to repeat things in parallelism, using different words. But when they had to repeat a number, they did so with the next higher number. Interestingly, such patterns were found in the second millennium B.C. in Urgarit to the north. (cf. Stories from Ancient Canaan, edited and translated by Michael D. Coogan, Westminster, 1978, esp. p. 16).

2)We see Amos confidently predicting restoration, and the critics do not deny he did it. Jeremiah will do the same (cf. especially chapters 29-31). So why could not one Isaiah have foreseen a restoration, even without a special revelation, as part of the deuteronomic pattern of sin -punishment - repentance - restoration. It is generally admitted that the prophets helped contribute this way of thinking to the historical books. Thus we could answer the chief argument against the unity of Isaiah. There would still be one objection to the unit of Isaiah, which we will consider later.

Hosea: He began his mission only a short time after that of Amos, i.e., near the end of the reign of Jeroboam, which ended in 746. He too prophesied in the northern kingdom, long before its fall with the capture of Samaria in 721. Again, as with Amos, we have prophecies made long before their fulfillment.

The first three chapters deal with the marriage of Hosea. Every detail is debated - was there such a thing? or is it only imaginary, to teach a lesson. Further, many editors rearrange the text, moving a block to a different position. Even St. Jerome admitted there are puzzles in Hosea.

But the chief message is clear in spite of all these things. Hosea seems to have had an unfaithful wife. She bore him children to whom he gave prophetic names: Jezreel (the name of the place where Jehu brought to an end the dynasty of Omri by bloodshed. (2 Kings 9-10). The name foretells the fall of the northern kingdom; lo- ruhama ("she is not pitied") for God will not longer pity Israel; and lo-ammi ("not my people") for Israel was going to fall out of the people of God. Hosea through this imagery denounces the sins of Israel who is pictured as the spouse of

God, but unfaithful. The people seemed so impressed with the idea that they were God's chosen people that they practically thought they could buy His favor by sacrifices that were empty externalism, without the interior obedience that would make them worthwhile. So God said (6:6): "It is observance of the covenant (hesed) that I desire, and not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts." Knowledge here carries the sense of the verb yada, which means to know and love. It is not mere intellectual knowledge. Also, when God says he wants one thing and not the other, we must understand the Hebrew pattern which, lacking the degrees of comparison (e.g., good, better, best - much, more, most etc.) would say one things is wanted, and not the other. It really means God wants obedience more than holocausts. We recall the words of Samuel to Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22.

It is important to see that Hosea not only speaks of the covenant, but that he compares God's relation to His people to that of husband and wife.

Hosea foretells that for many days Israel will sit without a judge, priest, or sacrifice. This probably has two fulfillments, one in the exile, the other in the time after their rejection of Christ, up to the end of time. St. Paul in Romans 9:25-26 uses a free combination of Hosea 2:24 (RSV = 2:23) and 2:1 (RSV = 1:10) to refer to the conversion of Israel before the end of time.

Hosea even boldly invented the name Beth-aven, "house of iniquity" to use in place of Beth-el, "House of God". Hosea still loved Gomer in spite of her infidelity and hoped to restore her. So God continued to love Israel, who is compared to His spouse, so that her sins are adultery, even when it was no longer part of His people of God. He planned a restoration. (cf. Ephesians 5:21-33).

On of the most tender expressions of God's love is found in chapter 11.

Isaiah: His ministry began about 742, "the year King Uzziah died", and ran until sometime in the reign of Hezekiah (715-687). He worked chiefly in Judah. That was a very turbulent time for Judah and others, since Assyria was expanding to the west, aiming at a world empire. This period included the Syro-Ephraimitic War: Rezin, King of Syria, and Pekah, son of Remaliah King of Israel tried to force Ahaz, King of Judah to join a coalition against Assyria. They even invaded Judah in 735. Isaiah advised against joining them, even offered (chapter 7) a sign in the sky or in the depths. Isaiah called for faith, meaning total commitment to God. That would make Judah safe. Ahaz refused, paid tribute to Tiglath Pileser of Assyria, and became a vassal.

Most scholars today see three Isaiahs, for chapters 1-39, 40-55, and 56-66, describing three periods: threat of punishment, exile, and restoration. We consider this is possible, but there is surely no convincing proof that there were three. For this is simply the familiar deuteronomic pattern we have met before. And, as we pointed out, Amos and Hosea show the same pattern. Isaiah merely fills it in more thoroughly.

Another attempt against the unity of Isaiah comes from the fact that there is a the prediction of the actions of Cyrus by name (44: 28). But this argument is valid only if one insists there can be no true prophecies. Actually, as we will soon see, Isaiah did predict things about the Messiah in three passages. Micah 5:2 his contemporary predicted by name the place of birth of the Messiah. And someone less than a major prophet in 1 Kings 13:2 foretells actions of King Josiah, to come about 300 years later (which are recorded in 1 Kings 23:15). Flavius Josephus, in Antiquities XI. 1. 1-2 asserts that Cyrus before releasing the Jews from captivity, read the prophecy about himself in Isaiah, and that this influenced his decision.

The book opens with a denunciation of the sinfulness of the people, with special stress on the fact that sacrifices then were mere externalism. This thought is crystallized in a passage farther on, in 29:13: "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." Older critics used to claim that Isaiah and other major prophets rejected sacrifices. But it was the empty external "participation" that they denounced. Then 29:14 goes on to say that because of this defective worship, "the wisdom of the wise will perish". This would be a punishment like that given through Rehoboam.

Some major messianic prophecies are found in Isaiah, which the targums recognize as messianic - except, in their present form, for 7:14.

We will compare two texts, namely 9:5-6 and 7:14. The former says a child is born to us, whose name will be called wonderful counselor, God the mighty... 7:14 as St. Matthew renders it, says the virgin will conceive and bear a son.

It is good to begin with 9:5-6 which foretells a wonderful child who will be the wonderful counselor, and even the Mighty God. The NAB version, "God- hero" is simply incorrect, as even modern Jewish versions see. The Hebrew el gibbor occurs a few other times in the OT, and always means Mighty God. Modern Jews avoid saying the Messiah is God the Mighty by changing the structure and word order, e.g., Samson Levey (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1974 p. 45) says: "The wonderful counselor, the Mighty God... has called his name 'Prince of Peace'." In his rendering of the Targum, Levey says his name has been called "messiah' by the one who gives wonderful counsel, the Mighty God, etc. We grant the structure can take this interpretation both in the Hebrew and in the targum, but it surely need not. To render the Hebrew of 9:5-6 as Levey does is a bit difficult, for how can one know what titles are part of the subject and what part of the object? We grant that the targum can be understood as Levey does it with somewhat less difficulty. For in the targum there is the Aramaic phrase min qedem, which can mean either "from of old" or" by" With "by" the targum could read: "His name shall be called by the wonderful counselor, (by) the mighty God, (by) the one who lives forever: Messiah. It is easier to take both targum and Hebrew to mean his name will be called wonderful counselor, Mighty God... .

Now it is remarkable that the Targum as we have it does not mark Isaiah 7:14, the virginal conception text, as messianic, even though scholars generally admit that chapters 7-12 can be called the "Book of Immanuel", with the result that the child of 9:5-6 is the same as the child of 7:14. The reason our present targum does not mark 7:14 as messianic is found in the fact that although Hillel, one of the great teachers at the time of Christ, said that Hezekiah, son of Ahaz to whom Isaiah spoke, had been the Messiah (Cf. Jacob Neusner, Messiah in Context, Fortress, 1984, p. 174), yet later Jews seeing the Christians using the text, began to say that 7:14 did not speak of the Messiah (cf. Neusner, p. 190).

Who then is the child of 7:14? On the one hand, the combined descriptions of 7:14 and 9:5-6 are much too grandiose for Hezekiah the son of Ahaz. On the other hand, a sign given to Ahaz that would not appear for more than 700 years would not be much of a sign for him. We therefore conclude that we have another case of multiple fulfillment of a divine prophecy: the child is both Hezekiah (a sign that the line of David continued) and Jesus.

As to the fact that Isaiah used Hebrew almah in 7:14 instead of betulah - the former meaning a girl of marriageable age who should be a virgin, the latter being definitely a virgin - it is quite possible Isaiah did not see as much in the line as did the Holy Spirit, the chief author of Scripture. Vatican II seems to imply this in LG #55.

Isaiah 11:1-3 says a shoot will sprout from the stump of David, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. If we take the opening words to mean a shoot from the stump (some challenge the translation "stump"), they are a remarkable prediction: that the line of David (still reigning in the day of Isaiah) would be reduced to a stump, but later, a shoot would come from it, the Messiah (for the Targum does see the Messiah in these lines).

Why would the Messiah, being divine, need the Gifts of the Holy Spirit? Because God willed that the Messiah have a full complement of humanity and all that ideally goes with it, contrary to the heresy of Apollinaris, who argued that not even a human rational soul was in Christ, for the Divine Logos could do the work of a soul. What Isaiah says is quite in line with the principle in Summa I. 19. 5. c which says that God in His love of good order, likes to have one thing in place to serve as a reason for giving a second thing, even though the first did not really move Him.

Isaiah 53 according to the targum also refers to the Messiah. But the targum as we have it is badly distorted: it changes the meek lamb being led to the slaughter into an arrogant conqueror. At least three very honest modern Jews: Levey (p. 152, n. 10), Neusner (p. 190), and H. J. Schoeps (Paul. The Theology of the Apostle, Westminster, 1961, p. 129) admit that the ancient Jews deliberately distorted the targum to try to keep Christians from using Isaiah 53 and similar passages. We can admit the Jews would find that prophecy difficult, for they also generally believed that the Messiah would live forever. Also, the leader of the second Jewish revolt against Rome, in 132-35, Bar Kokhba, was thought by many to be the Messiah - hence his name "Son of the Star", in allusion to Numbers 24:17.

Chapter 53 is the fourth of the four "Servant Songs" in Isaiah. The others are: 42:1-7; 49:1-7 and 50:4-11. The targum sees the first and fourth as Messianic, but not the other two. The New Testament sees 1 and 4 also as Messianic. Some think that in 49:1- 7 the servant is Israel - but in it the Servant has a mission to Israel. However, this could be an instance of the Hebrew pattern in which an individual stands for and is identified with a group.

In songs 2 and 3 we notice a universalism, the mission is to all peoples: cf. 42:6 where the servant is a covenant of the people, a light for the nations" and in 49:6 similarly it is too little for the servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, he is to be a light to the nations, so God's salvation may reach the ends of the earth.

Finally, we need to note that Isaiah is a powerful poet, and as such is given to highly colored language and idealization, e.g., in the images of the restoration. Also, as a Hebrew, he is more prone to exaggeration than we are. We see an instance of this in the passage where the wolf will be the guest of the lamb in 11:6- 9. We already saw in chapter 6 above some remarkable passages of apocalyptic language in Isaiah.

Micah: He was a contemporary of Isaiah, and in his opening line he asserts he worked during the reigns of Joatham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, i.e., about 740-687. Interestingly, Jeremiah 26:18-19 says that Micah foretold that Jerusalem and its temple would become ruins, but Hezekiah did not condemn him to death. He seems to have been a man of the countryside, from Moresheth who was shocked at the vices of the great cities: the rich who exploited the poor, crooked merchants, judges who were bribed, corrupt priests. He predicted the downfall of Jerusalem, but yet was confident later God would deliver His people. In 5:2 he predicts the Messiah will come from Bethlehem. When Herod consulted the Jewish theologians (Mt. 2:6) for the Magi, they readily quoted the prophecy of Micah.

Nahum: This very brief prophecy, probably to be dated around 612, the fall of Nineveh, celebrates the fall of Assyria, which had been so great a danger to Israel and to many other nations because of its deliberate terrorism and cruelty. It depicts God as the sovereign master of all. A unique feature of this book is that it does not threaten punishment to Israel for its sins. This may have been due to its composition around the time when the reforms of Josiah (622/21) were still recent.

Jeremiah: He was born about 645 in the village of Anathoth, a few miles to the north of Jerusalem, in the time of the evil king Manasseh. His ministry began in 627 during the reign of Josiah (640-609). He continued until sometime after the fall of Jerusalem.

The arrangement of materials in this book is rather haphazard, which makes it difficult to study. Chapter 36 reports that in 605 Jeremiah dictated the oracles he had given since 627 to Baruch, his secretary. This was read to the people and to the king. The king destroyed the scroll, but Jeremiah and Baruch made another larger edition.

He was young when called to be a prophet, and was reluctant to accept (1:6). He pleaded that he did not know how to speak. But God promised to strengthen him. Like Hosea he pictures the people as the bride of God, once faithful, but then turned to adultery and harlotry by the fertility cult, idolatry, and other pagan practices. He charges that pagan nations do not desert their gods, but Israel does. Josiah's reform started in 628, and was reinforced with the finding of the book, probably part of Deuteronomy, in the temple (1 Kgs. 22-23). But the reform did not really convert the hearts of the people, and Jeremiah became disillusioned with the reform. He delivered a stinging address in the Temple probably in 609 (7:1-15). He charges pagan worship, while the people were confident God would protect them because they were His people - even though their sacrifices were empty of interior dispositions. In 13:23 he says that true conversion is as unlikely as it would be for a leopard to change its spots. In chapter 19, Jeremiah in public smashed a potter's earthen flask, as a sign of how God would smash Jerusalem. Since symbolic acts were thought to have power to bring about what they stood for, Jeremiah was threatened with death (chapter 26). He contradicted the belief that God would save them no matter how wicked they were. But some of the princes defended Jeremiah against the priests who called for his death, and pointed out that Micah had foretold the same things in the days of Hezekiah, and was not put to death. However, another prophet, Uriah was executed for a similar prophecy (16:20-24).

Jeremiah was deeply distressed. He had no wife (16:1-4). He was finally excluded from the Temple (36:5) and mocked by many. In his interior torment, he even said that God had deceived him (20:7) for Jeremiah had thought God's initial call seemed to tell him God would protect him. Yet he was mistreated, scourged and put in the stocks by the priest Pashur. Jeremiah did not yet know the redemptive value of suffering, which Jesus taught by word and by example. He was tempted to give up his mission (20:9), yet he said when he tried to be silent, God's words burned within him. In 20:12 he even called for what the versions call "vengeance", but in the Hebrew Jeremiah was calling for God's naqam, that is the executive action of the supreme authority to set things right. Whether or not Jeremiah understood it clearly, there is a great difference between revenge - wishing evil to another so it may be evil to him - and a desire that the objective order be rebalanced. (Cf. our comments on objective order and sin as debt in chapter 11).

Jeremiah suffered much under King Jehoiakim - it was he who had Jeremiah's scroll destroyed. Jehoiakin, son of Jehoiakim, followed his father, but reigned only three months. The rebellion of Jehoiakim brought on the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 597. When Jehoaiakin capitulated he was exiled to

Babylon and the temple was plundered. He was a prisoner in Babylon 37 years. After the exile of Jehoiakin, Nebuchadnezzer installed Mattaniah, son of Josiah as king, and changed his name to Zedekiah. Zedekiah was rather well disposed to Jeremiah. Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles in Babylon (chapter 29) warning them about false prophets who said the exile would be short. He told them it would be 70 years, they should settle down.

In 589 Zedekiah provoked the Babylonians again, which led to the tragedy of 587. Jeremiah was cast into a cistern, but was later released and imprisoned in the court of the guard until the city fell. During this time Jeremiah wrote the great prophecy of the New Covenant (3l:3l-34). Vatican II (LG # 9) says Jesus made the covenant at the Last Supper. The essential obedience was that of Jesus, yet, since St. Paul makes clear we need to do all things with Jesus - the syn Christo theme - we must join our obedience to His. Did Jeremiah see that the essential obedience would be that of Jesus? We do not know - Vatican II (LG # 55) seems uncertain on the point. The Holy Spirit, the chief author, could intend more than the human writer saw.

There are two remarkable passages in which we may perhaps see an indication of the divinity of the Messiah. In 23:3 God said: "I myself shall gather the remnant of my sheep", but in verse 5:" I will raise up for David a righteous branch." The targum on verse 5 marks it as messianic. So it seems that God will be the shepherd to rule His people, also the Messiah will rule. So the Messiah seems to be God. In 30:11:" I am with you -oracle of the Lord - to save you." Levey (op. cit., p. 72) notices that it seems to say God Himself will come. Yet 30:9 is marked by the targum as messianic.

We have also five beautiful laments over the fall of Jerusalem in the Book of Lamentations. The text does not name the author. It could be Jeremiah. The date is also uncertain, suggestions range from 586 to 538, that is, the extent of the exile.

After the fall of Jerusalem in 587, Jeremiah was released from chains (chapter 40). Before long (chapter 42), the survivors asked Jeremiah to consult the Lord, and they would heed. He did, and advised them to stay in their land, and not to flee to Egypt. In spite of their promise, they went to Egypt, forcing Jeremiah and Baruch to go with them.

The short book of Baruch pretends to be by the secretary of Jeremiah. It may be by a pious Jews of a later time, using the name of Baruch as a sort of pen name. It contains reflections on the circumstances of the exiles in Babylon, and expresses sentiments like those of Jeremiah.

Some of the objections usually made against an early date for the book of Baruch are of no weight. Thus it is said that chapter 1 supposes the temple as still standing, while chapter 2 supposes it is in ruins. Two dates of composition for the two chapters, not too far apart, could account for that. In 1:11 Belshazzar is called the son of Nebuchadnezzar. But it often happened, especially with rulers, that they would speak of an earlier ruler as their father. For example King Tirhakah, c. 680 B.C. speaks of his father Sesostris III, c. 1880 B.C., and the genealogies in Matthew contain similar gaps; and Jesus is called the son of David - with a gap of centuries. (cf. Kitchen, op. cit., p. 39). We do admit that an observance of the feast of booths probably could not have happened after the fall of Jerusalem.

The contents are varied: a prayer of the exiles; a praise of the wisdom in the law of Moses; the lament of Jerusalem over her children; a consolation for Jerusalem, since the exile is about to end. The sixth chapter seems to be a separate work, the Epistle of Jeremiah against idolatry, sent to the exiles.

Zephaniah: He is one of the minor prophets, and seems to be a contemporary of Jeremiah. He speaks at the start, of the coming day of the Lord. That phrase meant the time when God would set things right, whether at the end of time, or at some intermediate points, resulting in aid to Israel, ruin to the enemies of Israel. Early in the text the prophet speaks of the final day, for it will strike all mankind. He threatens also Jerusalem, and the neighbors of Jerusalem. But in the final chapter he promises restoration to Jerusalem.

Incidentally, chapter 1 may have been the inspiration for the liturgical sequence, Dies irae.

Habbakuk: This small book seems to have been composed between the battle of Carchemish, when Nebuchadnezzar routed Assyrian and Egyptian forces (605) and 597, the year when Babylon invaded Judah and struck Jerusalem. There is an alternation - the complaints of the prophet, and God's answer. The prophet looks to God's fidelity to the covenant, asks why He is not helping. God predicts the fall of Babylon, still far in the future, in 539. The prophet's complaints seem to be based on forgetfulness that the covenant is two-sided, it promises good things to those who obey, evil retribution to the disobedient (cf. Dt. 11:26-28).

In 2:4 God promises that the man of faith who trusts in Him will not perish in the calamities that are coming. St. Paul quotes this line in Romans 1:17 and Gal 3:11, giving it a somewhat different sense, to support his preaching of justification by faith. The rabbis often cited the OT and did not heed the context. Paul was trained that way. Yet there is a strong connection, for in Paul, faith includes intellectual belief, confidence, obedience, and love.

Jonah: This book is very different, in that it is not a collection of utterances of the prophet; instead there is a story of a reluctant prophet. 2 Kings 14:25 briefly mentions a prophet, Jonah ben Amittai from the time of King Jeroboam II of Israel (786-46). But most scholars would date him in the sixth century.

Most commentators think this work was intended as a sort of extended parable rather than as history. There are considerable difficulties in taking it as historical. These can be answered (Cf. W. Most, Free From All Error, Prow, Libertyville, 1990, pp. 57-60). But to answer them does not solve the problem of genre.

Nor do the words of Benedict XV in EB 463 solve it, for they speak of Jesus as using "views [sententias] and examples". Jesus in referring to Jonah in Mt 12:38-42 was appealing to an example, and it sufficed for His purpose that the narrative of Jonah was popularly known and accepted. Similarly, St. Paul used a rabbinic legend in 1 Cor 10:4 (cf. Jude 9).

Whatever be the genre, the lessons of Jonah are clear. Jonah tried to run away to avoid preaching in Nineveh. The very fact God ordered him to preach there shows God's concern or love for even the Assyrians, the world's worst people in the eyes of people of the region: so He must love all! It also shows, sadly, that the People of God were so often more resistant to God's grace than were pagans. In the Mekilta de Rabbi Ishmael, a late 4th century rabbinic work, we find words put into the mouth of Jonah, saying that since the gentiles are more inclined to repent, he, Jonah might be causing Israel to be condemned if he went to Nineveh and they welcomed him. Cf. also similar instances in: Ezek 3:5-7; Lk 10:30-37; 17:11-19 and Mt 11:21.

Chapter 15: Exilic and Postexilic Prophets

Ezekiel: His ministry began with the call of God to him in 593 in Babylonia. He had been deported in 597. The date of the last of his sayings (29:27) seems to have been 571.

In contrast to Jeremiah's book, that of Ezekiel is rather well- ordered, in three major parts: Judgment on Judah and Jerusalem; Judgment on the nations; Restoration of Israel.

The first of these sections is not in chronological order, for during part of the time he seems to be in Jerusalem before its fall, whereas at the start he was already in exile.

It is often said that Ezekiel was an ecstatic prophet. The basis for such a claim is found in things like his dumbness in 3:22-27. But the ecstatic prophets are out of their mind, and hardly if at all know what they are doing. Ezekiel knew well what he was doing, it was a symbolic act that God had ordered him to perform.

Jeremiah had spoken kindly of the first wave of exiles, who went out in 587 (24; 29). But Ezekiel speaks of them as stubborn of brow and obstinate in heart (2:3-8; 3:4-9 - Jeremiah did not so much praise them as say God would help them). He tells how in Babylonia he saw the glory of God transported there on a throne- chariot (1:1 - 3:15). In this vision he saw the famous four living creatures. He also is told to eat a scroll (chapter 2), which stands for his being filled with the messages of God. This vision appointed Ezekiel as a watchman and prophet: If the watchman does not warn his people, he will be guilty of their ruin.

Chapter 4 seems to imply he is still in Jerusalem before its fall: he is told to perform symbolic actions including drawing Jerusalem on a large clay tablet, and raising a siege against it. In chapter 12 he acted out the part of an exile going into captivity.

In chapters 8-11 he is given visions as though he were transported back to Jerusalem, to see the glory of God leaving the temple. We cannot be sure if this was a physical transport, or a vision. While in Jerusalem he saw the abominations committed even in the temple precincts.

He sometimes makes use of allegory to express the sinfulness and worthlessness of Israel. In this he at times speaks of Israel as the spouse of God, as Hosea had done (16 & 23). Of major importance is his teaching on individual responsibility in chapter 18: they must stop using the proverb that said the fathers have eaten sour grapes, the teeth of the children are set on edge. Each shall bear his own iniquity. But if the evil man repents, he is readily forgiven; if the good man turns to sin, he will not live.

The vision of the dry bones in chapter 37 is especially famous: it is a vivid way of saying that God can and will still restore His people. Hence in 43:1-9 Ezekiel saw the throne-chariot return and enter the new temple, as part of chapters 40-48 which picture an idealized cult within an idealized temple.

Some have attempted to see a prophecy of the last times of the world in chapters 38-39 and even to identify Russia within it. This is quite fanciful, lacking in any solid exegetical support.

Finally, there is a fascinating possibility in 34:11: "Thus says the Lord God: I, I myself will search out my sheep and seek them out." We notice the repeated I, clearly standing for God, as though He Himself intended to come in person. Yet in 34:23: "I will set one shepherd over them, my servant David". It is possible that this could imply the divinity of the Messiah. (cf. Jeremiah 23:3-5 and 30:11 for a similar situation. The targum marks both passages of Jeremiah as messianic).

Obadiah: This is the shortest prophecy of the OT, only 21 verses long. The date is uncertain, but most likely it belongs to fifth century BC - the range of suggested dates runs from 850 to 312. The fifth century was a time when the Edomites had left their original home near the Gulf of Aqaba and had settled in southern Judah. They were among the adversaries of the Jews returning from exile. Obadiah hopes God will set things right. Please recall our comments on Jer 20:12, on the sense of Hebrew naqam.

Haggai: Here we can date the book confidently to 520 BC, and even become more precise in regard to each of the four pronouncements in the book. Haggai first said God willed work to resume on the temple - failure to do that meant that things that should naturally have helped them did not; then Haggai urges the work to continue even though the temple might not be as grand as Solomon's temple; the third section has questions to the priests about ritual cleanness; the final oracle says Zerubbabel, God's chosen one, is to be exalted.

There is special interest in 2:6-7, where God says: "In a little while, I will move heaven and earth and the hemdat of all the nations will come in, and I will fill this house with glory". St. Jerome translated: "The one desired by the nations will come in", i.e., the Messiah. More commonly it is translated "the desired things [or treasures] of all nations will come in." The fact that hemdat is singular, while its verb is plural causes a problem, and inclines many to translate "desired things, or treasures. But even if so, the picture is that of all nations coming to Jerusalem - which points to the messianic age. And God says He will fill the temple with glory, and even, in verse 9, says the glory of this new temple will be greater than that of Solomon. Materially this did not come true - but there was greater glory, in that Jesus the Messiah came in to the new temple. Therefore in view of the background, even if we do translate hemdat as plural, there is at least an implication of the messianic age in it - which is only "a little while" - from 520 BC!

Zechariah: He was a contemporary of Haggai. There are two main sections of this book. The first, chapters 1-8 has a series of eight night visions, dated to 519 BC, promising the restoration of Israel. First there are four horsemen who patrol the earth; then there are four horns, standing for the four nations that dispersed Judah and Israel, but they are terrified by four blacksmiths, agents of the Lord; then there is the measuring of Jerusalem, foretelling the restoration of Jerusalem. Next, in chapter 3, the High priest, Joshua is made glorious and given responsibility for both civilian and religious restoration. In the fifth vision (chapter 4) Joshua and Zerubbabel share responsibility for the golden lampstand, which is the restored community. In 5:21-4 there is a flying scroll, standing for God's curse on those who swear falsely. In chapter 5:5-11, a woman in a bushel is taken to Babylon, to remove wickedness from Israel. In the eighth and final vision (6:1-8), four chariots and horses patrol the earth, to prepare restoration, as in the first vision. The remainder of the first part of the book (6:9 - 8:23) is a series of oracles concerning the messianic age: coronation of the messianic king, then a stress on the ethical ideals of the prophets as more suited for the restoration than mere external observances. Finally, chapter 8 gives an idealized image of the messianic age in Jerusalem.

The second part of the book, chapters 9-14 - which many scholars assign to a later prophet - again focuses on restoration, and humiliation of the enemies of Israel, the gathering of the dispersed people, the power of God over nature and history. Already in 9:9-10 Jerusalem is told to rejoice, for her King will be righteous, coming riding on a donkey - Palm Sunday, of course. Very impressive is the allegory of two shepherds (11:4-17): the prophet seems to have acted out the part of a good shepherd, the Messiah, rejected by the sheep, paid for by thirty silver pieces. Then the Lord Himself said to the prophet who was acting for Him: "Throw it [the price] to the potter, the fine price at which they valued me." The me seems to refer to the Lord Himself - and since the Messiah is in view, we can gather that the Messiah is the Lord. It would be hard not to think of Mt. 27:3-10. Of course we are reminded of the remarkable text of Ez. 34:11 where the Lord says :"I, I will search out my sheep" and Jeremiah 23:3: "I myself shall gather the remnant of my sheep (and 23:5-6 according to the targum, speaks of the Messiah), and "this is the name they give him: 'The Lord is our justice'." Samson Levey, op. cit., p. 70 comments that a later rabbinic document said, referring to this text, "His name is 'the lord'"- in Hebrew Yahweh! - These texts could give a hint that the Messiah is God Himself!). Cf. Apoc/Rev 1:7.

The final chapters 12-14 foretell the Day of the Lord. Within them, 12:10 is striking. The Lord says He will pour upon the people of Jerusalem a spirit of favor and supplication, of repentance: "They will look upon me the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child." The strange shift from me to him is striking. It seems that the Lord speaks of Himself here - even as He did in 11:13 - as the pierced Messiah - and then they will mourn for him. The targum does not see this as Messianic, but we in the light of the later events can easily do it. It foretells the final conversion of Jerusalem - of which St. Paul speaks in Romans 11:25-26 - when they will be converted and will mourn over the fact that they did pierce the Messiah, the Lord. This understanding is helped by the words of 13:7, which Jesus Himself quoted shortly before His death: "Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be dispersed" - we recall how the Lord identified Himself with the good shepherd above in 11:7-13.

Altogether, Zechariah is, next to Isaiah, the most messianic of the prophets.

Joel: Dates have been proposed for Joel from the late 9th century to the late 4th century. From his knowledge of and interest in cultic matters, some think Joel may have lived near Jerusalem. The first part of the book (1:1 - 2:17) speaks of a devastating plague of locusts - which could be taken as a literal infestation, or as describing a foreign invasion, or as an apocalyptic account of a divine judgment on Judah. The remainder of the book is concerned with the Day of the Lord, a day of judgment on the nations, but blessings for Israel. For the battle that will lead to such blessings, they will beat their plowshares into swords - not a contradiction of Isaiah 2:4, which speaks of the period when the blessings are won and assured, while Joel speaks of the battle needed to reach that day.

The language becomes heavily apocalyptic at times: in 2:10 and in 4:15 the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars do not give their light. We saw other examples of this pattern of speech in chapter 4 above, from Isaiah and Ezekiel.

St. Peter in his address on the first Pentecost (Acts 2:17-21) quoted Joel 3:1-5, and said it was being fulfilled then. But there is multiple fulfillment in some prophecies, and so the words of Joel are to apply again before the final day of the Lord.

Malachi: We have no personal information about Malachi, and some even doubt that Malachi - which means "my messenger" - was his name. We gather something on the date from 1:8, which speaks of the nation as ruled by a governor - which was true in the Persian period (540-450).

There are six oracles in this book. It opens with the expression of God's love for Israel/Jacob, in contrast to His anger with Edom; secondly, God charges the priests have become careless, they even offer defective victims, He prefers the clean oblation offered from the rising to the setting of the sun (more on this below); then God objects to mixed marriages. He will come in judgment, they have wearied Him. His messenger will come first. The Lord will refine the priesthood. In fifth place He complains of their failure to pay the tithes, promises reward if they do. Then, He rebukes those who question the value of obedience to God. The faithful will be written in the Lord's book. The prophet Elijah will come before the Day of the Lord.

We must ask about the offerings made by the gentiles in 1:11. Many opinions have been proposed: some think the prophet means pagan sacrifices - but, would an Israelite prophet speak that way? We recall St. Paul who in 1 Cor 10:20 says what the pagans offer is offered to demons - in the sense that the demons promote such offerings. Some have suggested it refers to proselytes - but they were not so numerous, or so widely spread, to qualify. Some suggest it refers to the fame of the name of Yahweh. But that would not be called a sacrifice. Some think it means prayer, praise etc, in the days of the Messiah - Again, this is not sacrifice.

So by elimination, we go back to an interpretation found in many of the Fathers of the Church: this is a prophecy of the Mass. Of course, all Protestant commentators would reject that. The Council of Trent (DS 1742) said the Mass is the fulfillment. So did Vatican II, LG #17.

The words of 3:1 are remarkable: "Behold, I am sending my messenger, who will prepare a way before my face, and suddenly the Lord will come to His temple, the messenger of the covenant whom you are desiring." This is related to 4:5: "Behold I am sending to you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord comes." The noted former form critic (more recently Fuller declared form criticism bankrupt), Reginald H. Fuller (The Foundations of New Testament Christology, Chas. Scribner's Sons, NY, 1965, p. 48) said that 4:5 is a note commenting on 3:1: "Elijah appears as the forerunner not of the Messiah but of Yahweh himself... ." Of course, we know the Messiah is God, and we note that Jesus Himself in Mt 11:3-10 (Lk 7:24-27) referred Mal 3:1 to Himself, implying He knew His own divinity. (He used the then current form of the words in which it was modified by similarity of wording to Ex 23:20).

Chapter 16: The Psalms

First we must explain that there are two numbering systems for the Psalms, one following the Hebrew numbers, the other following the Septuagint (LXX) numbers. Both systems are the same for 1-8. But then: 9-10 of Hebrew = 9 of the LXX. 11-113 Hebrew = 10-112 LXX; 114-15 Hebrew = 113 LXX; 116 Hebrew = 114-15 LXX; 117-146 = 116- 145 LXX; 147 Hebrew = 146-47 LXX; 148-150 = 148 - 150 LXX. Most modern versions follow the Hebrew system, while the older Catholic versions follow the LXX and the Vulgate.

Our present Psalter is likely to be a collection of several earlier collections. The Psalms at present fall into five books or groups: 1-41; 42-72; 73-89; 90-106; 107-150. Each book closes with a shorter doxology, or praise of God. Many of the Psalms are attributed to David. It is likely that he did compose many. At the time of Christ it was customary to speak of all as by David. Christ merely adopted the current way of speaking. His mission was not to reveal the history of literature.

The Psalms are in general sacred songs, prayers. There are several different types of Psalms: Psalms of Lament; Psalms of Thanksgiving; Hymns; Enthronement Psalms; Royal Psalms; Liturgical Psalms and Wisdom or Torah Psalms.

The titles at the beginning of Psalms are in general mysterious. So also is the use of the word selah, which is frequent. Its sense is not known. It may be a musical notation.

The Psalms are all poetry. Poetry in general requires two things: elevation of thought and language; and some special metrical form. The meter of Hebrew verse does not depend on rhyme or regular meter, but on rhythmic beat and parallelism. It is necessary to count how many stressed syllables - usually 2, 3 or 4.

Parallelism is very common. In synonymous parallelism the sense of the first stich (group of words) is repeated in the second. There is also antithetic parallelism, in which the repetition gives the same idea in contrasting ways. Sometimes the second member merely completes the thought of the first. Sometimes the parallelism is worked out in three lines.

The parallelism of the Psalms is much influenced by that of Ugaritic literature. Ugarit is the modern Ras Shamra. A plow of a farmer in 1928 accidentally came upon the buried ruins of Ugarit, which had been destroyed by fire in 1185 BC, probably in an invasion of the Sea Peoples, who distressed many lands around that time, including Egypt. For examples of Ugaritic texts cf. Peter C. Craigie, Ugarit and the Old Testament (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1983, esp. pp. 53-55, or Stories from Ancient Canaan, Edited and Translated by Michael D. Coogan (Westminster, Phila., 1978, pp. 14-18). It is remarkable how much of the imagery of God riding upon the clouds etc. comes from ancient Ugarit.

The targum sees Messianic texts in many Psalms: 18, 21, 45, 61, 72 (the whole Psalm), 80, 89, 132.

We will examine the most important of these, and add some that the targum does not see as Messianic.

First, those which the targum does call messianic.

In 21:5 the Hebrew texts says "He asked for life from you." The targum expands: "He asked eternal life of you." This reflects the widespread view that the Messiah would live forever.

Psalm 45, many think, was written for the marriage of Joram to Athaliah. Yet the targum takes it to refer further, to the Messiah. References to God, the Messiah, and Israel are interwoven. 45:7 in the Hebrew says "your divine throne is forever;" the targum renders "your throne of glory lasts forever". Psalm 61: 7-9 echoes the belief that the Messiah will live forever.

Psalm 72 is entirely Messianic, and is similar to the thought of Nathan's prophecy (of 2 Sam 7. 4-17 to David. 72:17 says "May his name be forever", reflecting the prevalent rabbinic belief of the preexistence of the name of the Messiah.

In Psalm 80:18 we find, "May your hand be upon the man of your right hand, on the son of man, whom you raised up for yourself." Levey (op. cit., pp. 119-20) notes that the targum takes the Messiah to be the son of God. He adds that later rabbis carefully steered clear of any messianic interpretations of it. It is interesting to see the Messiah called "son of man" here.

Now for Psalms which the targum does not take as messianic: First, Psalm 2 speaks of the Lord's "anointed one" who is the son of God, and who will rule the nations, "with an iron scepter". Peter and John in Acts 4:25-26 explicitly take Psalm 2 to refer to Jesus. So does Revelation/Apocalypse 12:5. The targums often see messianic indications with less reason than Psalm 2 offers. We suspect deliberate suppression by the Jews - that this happens at times is admitted by three major Jewish scholars today: Jacob Neusner, Samson Levey, and H. J. Schoeps (cf. chapter 14 above).

In Acts 2:25-28 St. Peter argues from Psalm 16:8-11 in which v. 20 says: "You will not abandon me to the grave, and you will not let your holy one see corruption." St. Peter says that the body of David did decay - therefore this referred to Jesus.

Jesus Himself recited the opening line of Psalm 22 on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" In a General Audience of Nov 30, 1988, Pope John Paul II commented on this text: "Dominant in His mind, Jesus has the clear vision of God... But in the sphere bordering on the senses... Jesus' human soul is reduced to a wasteland, and He no longer feels the presence of the Father." Verse 17 says: "They have pierced my hands and my feet." We think again of Zechariah 12:10: "They will look on me, the one they have pierced." (cf. again Apoc/Rev. 1. 7) And Ps. 22:19 adds: "They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."

Jesus Himself in Mt 22:41-46 reasoned from Psalm 110:1: "The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies the footstool for your feet." So, Jesus said, David calls the Messiah Lord - a hint of divinity. Matthew 22:46 reports that the Pharisees could not answer this reasoning.

Psalm 118:42 says: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone". Jesus referred that to Himself in Mt. 21:42 (cf. Eph 2:20 and 1 Pet. 2:6).

There are some Psalm lines that seem to reflect a belief on the part of the writer that he will be with God even after death, for his union with Him has been so close in this life, that it cannot be interrupted.

Psalm 49:16: "But God will rescue my soul from the hand of Sheol; surely He will take me." Right after this the fate of the wicked rich is pictured: he cannot take his riches with him.

Psalm 73:23: "But I am always with You, You hold my right hand by Your hand; you guide me with counsel and afterwards you will take me to glory." In the first part of the psalm, the author said he was tempted to think God was not just. But he understood the fate of the wicked when he went into the sanctuary. After that, he gained the confidence he expressed in verse 23. He continued: "Whom do I have in the heavens but you? Being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever (le olam)."

Mitchell Dahood, in the introductions to his three volume commentary on the Psalms in Anchor Bible, proposes revised translations of about 30 Psalm lines, in the light of Ugaritic language discoveries. If one accepts them, there are more lines like those we have just cited. We will see more evidence on belief in after life and on future retribution in our consideration of individual wisdom books in the next chapter.

There are some Psalms and parts of Psalms that call down punishment on enemies. For example, Psalms 35, 58, 59 ask God to punish the enemies of the Psalmist. Ps. 137:8-9 is similar.

How can we explain? Some have said these were merely predictions of punishment without any desire. That seems unrealistic. Some have said the morality of the Old Testament was imperfect: it was, compared to the new, but we must not say there is something positively immoral in it.

It is helpful to think of Revelation/Apocalypse 6:10 where the souls of martyrs under the altar ask God: "How long, until you will bring justice for our blood?" They are with God, so their wills are completely aligned with His. Many versions here use the word avenge. That is unfortunate. To will vengeance is to will evil to another so it may be evil to him. The souls of martyrs do not do that. But to will that the objective order be righted - we discussed that in chapter XI - this is supremely moral, it is the attitude of God Himself. It is a bit dangerous to indulge in that wish, for one may slide over readily into a desire for vengeance. Yet we must admit that in itself it is highly moral.

Chapter 17: The Wisdom Literature

It has been traditional to speak of seven books as wisdom books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth), Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus). Actually, the character of these is rather diverse. We have just commented on the Psalms. We will hold the Song of Songs to the last place, since it is quite different from the usual wisdom books.

We begin with Proverbs, Sirach, Wisdom and Ecclesiastes since they have strong similarities. The first three of these have deep roots in other civilizations of the ancient Near East, especially Egypt. The ancient Near Eastern court circles seem to have been the source of much wisdom literature. One of the oldest works is The Instructions of Ptahotep, a vizier, c. 2400 B.C. The Instructions of Amenemopet, dating from around 1200 B.C. is significant for the remarkably close similarity to the Book of Proverbs, especially to 22:17 - 24:22: compare Amenemopet III, 9-12; XI, 13f; XXVII, 16f.

Ptahotep advises that when one meets a speaker who is better at argument, one should cut down on bad talk by not opposing him. On meeting an equal, one should show his superiority by silence, so that the attending official may be impressed. An inferior opponent should be treated with indulgent disregard, so as to "smite him with the punishment of the [truly] great." At the table of a superior, one should keep a sedate countenance, take only what is offered, laugh only when the host laughs. An official should listen patiently to pleas of clients because "a petitioner wants attention to what he says even more than the accomplishing of that for which he came."

So, even though the Egyptian wisdom urges conformity to the virtue of ma'at - which seems to be a complex of social justice virtues, though the sense is unclear - yet practical advice on how to get along is the most prominent feature.

Some of Hebrew wisdom is also merely practical advice, though the religious element does enter often enough. Especially there is praise of Wisdom which is often personified - cf. e.g., Proverbs 1, 8, 9; Sirach 24; Wisdom 7-9. She, Wisdom, existed before creation, with God, and after traveling through earth and sky, has taken up her abode with Jacob (Sirach 24:8-10). Wisdom is also identified with the Law: Sirach 24:22-23 (cf. our remarks on Dt. 4:6-8 in chapter 11 above) She is also a communication of God, an effusion of divine glory: Wisdom 7:25-26. So it is an easy step from there to speak of Christ as the wisdom of the Father: 1 Cor 1:24.

Proverbs: This book is not really unified. Instead it is a collection of short sayings, with a long poetic introduction (chapters 1-9), and a conclusion consisting of longer sayings and short poems (30-31).

The date is difficult to determine. Some think many of the sayings go back to monarchic times, although the collection was made later.

The book opens: "The proverbs of Solomon". But we know that in that culture as pen names, the name of a famous man would often be used, and Solomon, famous for his wisdom, was a natural choice. There are within it two special Solomonic collections: 10:1- 24:22, and 25:1 - 29:27.

Much of the wisdom is largely practical and aimed at success in this life. Yet there is a religious color especially in personified Wisdom, particularly in chapters 1, 8, and 9. And "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord" (9:10). A specially beautiful passage, 8:22-31 is an optional reading for the Common of the Blessed Virgin, the Seat of Wisdom ever most closely joined to her Son, who is the Wisdom of the Father (1 Cor 1:24). Vatican II, in chapter 8 of LG, beautifully develops this union, which began in eternity, embraced every one of the mysteries of His life and death, and will continue beyond the end of time forever.

Chapters 30 and 31 include wisdom of other nations, that of Agur, and that of Lemuel.

The whole book closes with a beautifully ideal picture of the perfect wife.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus: It is remarkable that we know the name of the author of this book, Yeshua ben Eleazar ben Sira. Sirach is the Greek form of the name. His grandson wrote a preface to the Greek translation of this book. Ben Sira was a Jerusalem sage who passed on his reflections in a school he conducted. In time he wrote down these teachings, probably c 190-180. The grandson brought the book to Egypt and there translated it sometime after 132 B.C. Though the Hebrew original was long lost, starting in 1896 documents have been found, which give us about two-thirds of the Hebrew original.

Unfortunately, not all versions use the same numbering system. The NAB and older RSV have a system that matches neither the Greek nor the Latin numbers. The newer RSV is better.

It is almost impossible to outline the book, because of its lack of systematic arrangement. However, materials are often grouped according to content - a feature lacking in Proverbs.

Ben Sira like Proverbs personifies wisdom. She is God's creature and His gift to us, but to attain wisdom requires much discipline. She dwells especially in the temple of Jerusalem, and is identified with the Law.

A specially important section is the praise of the ancestors (44:12 - 50:24) from Enoch to the high priest Simon II.

The charge is often made that Sirach denies an afterlife or retribution in the afterlife. The chief line is 14:16-17: "Give and take and enjoy yourself, for it is not possible in Sheol to seek luxury. All flesh grows old as a garment. For the decree of ages is: You must surely die."

We need to work with care and precision here. The commentators commonly forget that before the death of Christ, heaven was closed (cf. DS 780, 1000) even to those who were just and fully prepared. So what was existence like in Sheol? There was no praise of God. Psalm 6:6 asks: "Who in Sheol can give you praise?" Sirach 17:27- 28 has the same thought. Again, Isaiah 38:18-19 says: "Death cannot praise you. Those who go down into the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness." M. Dahood (Anchor Bible, Psalms 16, p. 38) comments that the writer of Psalm 6 does not suffer from an inability to remember God in Sheol, but from not being able to share in the grand liturgical praise of God as in the public worship, which the people of Israel sincerely loved. (They loved the externals so much that God complained in Is 29:13: "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me"). We could add that the very Hebrew words used in Isaiah 38:18-19 for praise or thanks of God also appear in 1 Chron 16:4 and 2 Chron 5:13 and 31:2 for the liturgical praise of God.

Is 38 says they cannot hope for God's faithfulness: it is because the covenant does not extend to Sheol - the word used is regular for God's faithfulness to the covenant. But this does not mean that God does not watch over Sheol: Job 26:6 says: "Sheol is naked before God." Cf. Prov. 15:11.

Qoheleth 9:10 says: "There is no work or reason, or knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol." Of course the dead in Sheol do not work. Nor have they any natural means of knowing what goes on on earth - they get this only if God chooses to reveal something to them. Cf. Job 14:21.

We do not see in Sirach any positive indication of retribution in Sheol. But that does not mean the dead were non-existent (these are two separate questions: survival, and retribution in the future life). Jesus Himself answered the Sadducees on this point (Mt. 22:29-33) by citing from the Pentateuch - perhaps the only part of the OT they accepted - from Ex 3:6, the words of God to Moses: "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob" and Jesus added: "He is not the God of the dead but of the living." The Sadducees were silenced, they could not answer His reasoning. Further, it was necessary to give repeated commands in the OT against necromancy, consulting the dead, which indicates it was being done, and done persistently: e.g., Lv 19:31; 20:6, 27; Dt. 18:11 and many more texts. Saul himself had a medium bring up the spirit of Samuel in 1 Sam 28:8-19. Even if we say the mediums were fakes, it remains true that there was persistent belief that the dead did exist. (We will consider some added problem texts in Job and Qoheleth in treating each book).

Let us recall also the Psalm lines on the future life we saw at the end of the chapter on Psalms.

Really, it would seem strange after some centuries in Egypt, where the concept of an afterlife was so strong and clear, if the Hebrews had no concept of survival at all.

Many today assert the Hebrew had a unitary concept of man: a body with breath. Then there could be no survival. But we already saw the widespread belief of survival in the attachment to necromancy. And we saw the answer of Jesus to the Sadducees. Some confusion comes from the Hebrew word nefesh, which has many meanings including soul, but those who hold for the unitary concept refuse to accept that. meaning of soul. Really, we think the Hebrews were acting according to proper theological method, without realizing that technically of course. In divine matters we may meet with two truths, which seem to clash. Even after rechecking our study they are still there. Then we must hold both, hoping sometime to find how to reconcile them. They saw two things: 1)Man seems to be a unit; 2)They knew, as we saw, that there was some survival after death (with or without retribution there). How to fit these together they did not know, but they held both. Then in the second century B.C. when they reached the concept of man as made of body and soul (under stimulus of Greek thought and the horrible deaths of the martyrs under Antiochus IV), they finally knew how to do it. Not all Jews accepted that, but many did, especially the Pharisees. And St. Paul was a Pharisee.

Job: Job consists of a prose introduction and conclusion - which may have existed separately from the rest, and of a large poetic core. Satan - who seems not to be the same as the devil, merely an opponent - tells God that Job would not obey if he were afflicted. God gives permission to afflict Job greatly. So Job's suffering is permitted as a test - an idea that is a bit new, for usually suffering had been considered as a divine punishment for sin (and it could be that).

Three friends of Job come, but do not really console him: they say he must have sinned or the affliction would not have come. Job insists on his innocence. The fact that God could afflict an innocent man disturbs Job, he almost becomes angry with God at some points. Finally he asks the Almighty to answer him. God does speak from a storm: Would Job condemn God so he, Job could seem just? Job confesses he has not reacted well, he has tried to deal with things above him, he repents in dust and ashes. God directs Job's friends to ask Job to pray for them, so their fault may be pardoned. In the prose conclusion Job gets back much more than what he had lost.

Job basically wrestles with the question: Why do the just sometimes suffer in this life. The answer is: We cannot know all of God's ways - that is, this is the answer of the poetic core of the book. The prose conclusion says: God repaid Job richly before the end of his life. This is not a contradiction, but simply fails to repeat the gain.

Did Job, as some say, deny a future life in 14:13 ff? Not at all. Here is an outline of what Job really said in chapter 14: In verses 10-12: Even though a tree may put forth shoots again, a man who dies does not come back, i. e, not to this life. In verse 13: Job indulges in a poetic fancy - he knows it is only a fancy: He wishes God would hide him in Sheol until His anger would pass, and then remember Job again. This is a fancy for certain, but we must remember Job is high poetry, and such poetry can indulge in fanciful things. Marvin Pope, In Anchor Bible, Job does take this view of verse 13, and Pope points out that Is 26:20 indulges a similar fancy: let the people of Judah hide in their chambers till God's wrath passes. Amos 9:2 ff. pictures the wicked as trying in vain to hide in Sheol, in Heaven, on Mt. Carmel or on the bottom of the sea. Verses 14-17 continue the fancy of verse 13: "If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my service I would wait until my change would come. You [God] would call, and would answer and you would want the work of your hands. Then You would number my steps, and not keep watch over my sin. My transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would sew up my iniquity. Verses 18-22 return to reality: just as a mountain may lose strength and a rock be moved from its place, just as waters wear away even rock, so, in the end, God prevails, and destroys man's hope of this life. God sends him away. In verses 21-22: Man goes to sheol, and does not know whether his sons fare well or not,"His flesh on him has pain, and his soul mourns over him." To sum up: Job for a moment indulges fancy, then returns to reality: No one can win against God, he must go to Sheol. There he will not know what goes on earth - as we saw earlier, even the souls of the just there, not having the vision of God before the death of Christ, have no normal means of knowing things on earth, unless God gives a special revelation. But Job adds that his flesh has pain and his soul mourns over him. This at least seems to imply some awareness after death.

We must add: Job may have seen even more about the future life. For the much debated verses 19:25-27 read, in the NAB: "I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another's shall behold him, and from my flesh I shall see God." Now this could not mean a rescue in this life, for in 7:6-7 Job said: "My days have passed more swiftly than the web is cut by the weaver, and are consumed without any hope." So he had no hope for this life - the hope must have been for the future life. The NRSV is similar. So this rendering is at least not impossible. (Let us recall our comments above on Sirach 14:16-17).

Qoheleth/Ecclesiastes: The author is unknown, he seems to have been a rather late sage, probably about 3rd century BC. A copy of the book was in circulation at least by 150 BC, fragments have been found at Qumran.

Today it is often said that the author did not believe in an afterlife - but we have already commented on such claims in general earlier, in connection with Psalms Sirach and Job. Some time ago many believed there must be two authors for the book, for what they considered contrasting or incompatible statements. However, if we recall proper theological method, we can gain some light. In divine matters, it is not unusual to find two conclusions which remain even after rechecking our work, but which seem to clash. Then we need to resist any temptation to force the meaning of either. Rather, we should accept both, and remain that way until someone finds a solution. It is likely that Qoheleth did precisely this.

The first set of texts do seem not to know an afterlife, though they do not deny it:

2:14: "The eyes of a wise man are in his head; the fool walks in darkness. I myself perceived: the same thing comes to all of them." That is, all die and turn to dust.

3:19: "For what happens to man is the same as happens to beasts. As one dies, the other dies".

3:20: "All are from dust and will return to dust."

3:21: "Who knows whether the spirit of the sons of man goes up and the spirit of the beasts goes down?" Of course the sense is debated. The word we have rendered spirit is Hebrew ruach. Its sense is similar to that of nefesh - which is also much debated. Both surely have a wide range of meanings. However, we notice here that the author considers if the ruach of humans goes up, but that of animals goes down. At least a hint of a difference.

9:5-6: "The dead know nothing. They have no more reward... their love and their hate and their envy have perished. Nor do they have any more forever a portion of all that is done under the sun." We spoke of this in commenting on Sirach and Job. Yes, the dead have no normal means of knowing what goes on on the earth. And being in the Limbo of the Fathers, not in heaven until after the death of Christ, their lot is indeed dim. They never will return to ordinary earthly life - we know that after the resurrection life will be much different. Qoheleth would not know what we know, but what he said is not false.

Yet no one of the above really proves a denial of an afterlife.

The second set seem at least to imply a future life:

3:17: "I said in my heart: God shall judge both the just and the wicked." But the author knew well it does not always work out so in this life - hence an implication of a judgment beyond this life.

8:12: "If a sinner does evil a hundred times, and prolongs his life, yet I know surely that it will be well with those who fear God." Again, a possible implication, especially since in 8:14 he adds: "There are just men to who it happens according to the deeds of the wicked; and there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the just."

12:14: "For God will bring every deed into judgment, every hidden thing, whether good or evil." Again, since it often does not happen in this life, there is an implication of retribution after death.

So Qoheleth at least seems to give us implications of retribution after death. He was groping, but did what he could. The fact that he spoke so dimly of all earthly things, and yet knew God is so good might possibly be considered as raising the question to a higher plane, going above mere earthly reward.

Wisdom: What Qoheleth saw only dimly at best, the author of Wisdom did see very clearly (3:1-5): "The souls of the just are in the hands of God, and surely no torment will touch them. They seemed to the eyes of senseless men to die, and their departure was considered an evil... but they are in peace. And if in the eyes of men they be punished, their hope is full of immortality. And having been tried a little, they will be greatly blessed for God tried them, and found them worthy of himself."

The author was a Jew, probably at Alexandria, in the first century B.C. He was familiar with Hellenistic philosophy, culture and rhetoric. Pagan wisdom, and especially the pagan claims of Isis, the goddess of wisdom, would be apt to impress the Jews. Science had been flourishing in Alexandria for some time. The writer wants to strengthen fellow Jews against the attractions of these things.

The passage we cited above comes from the section on wisdom and human destiny (which runs to 6:21). The wicked may persecute - probably the memory of the persecution of Antiochus IV of Syria was vivid. But God makes it all right in the life to come. For God had formed man to be imperishable (1:13-14; 2:23). But death entered by the sins of wicked people. Death cannot harm those who are faithful to God, but it will strike those who plotted against the just.

The second section 6:22-11:1 speaks of acquiring wisdom. It is a gift of God, but will be given those who are just and who seek it. Specially impressive are the words of 6:5-6 which say that the lowly may be pardoned by mercy, but there is a stern judgment for the powerful.

In the third section, 11:2-19:22 the author reviews the wonders of God's works for Israel, in the Exodus and beyond. Israel benefitted by the very things, the plagues, that struck the Egyptians.

A special gem of wisdom appears in 4:12: "The magic spell of worthless things obscures what is right, and the anxiousness of desire perverts an innocent mind." This anticipates St. Paul's plea for detachment in 1 Cor 7:29-35. It is quite possible, since the author knew Greek culture that he has in mind too the plea of Socrates, often repeated, that the philosopher, to find the truth, should have as little as possible to do with the things of the body (e.g., Phaedo 65, 66, 82-83, 114; Republic 519).

The Song of Songs: It is customary to list this work among the wisdom books, even though it is clearly not such. The title, which is also given as Canticle of Canticles, is merely a Hebrew form of superlative: the greatest song.

Dates of composition have been proposed all the way from the monarchic period to the third century B.C. The attribution to Solomon is only a familiar literary device.

There is much disagreement on its structure: some have seen only seven love songs in it, others as high as fifty.

If taken in the literal sense it would be an erotic composition. In that way it could be a message that God created sexuality as a means of spiritual growth, if used according to His plan and within His laws. Thus Paul VI, in an address to the 13th National Congress of the Italian Feminine Center, on Feb. 12, 1966 (cf. The Pope Speaks 11, 1966, p. 10), said that marriage should be "a long path to sanctification."

But at least by the 2nd century A.D. the allegorical view was. We saw, especially in Hosea, the imagery of God as the husband of Israel. Early Christians tended to make it refer to the relation of Christ and His Church. cf. Eph 5:22-32.

Chapter 18: The Book of Daniel

Daniel is commonly thought of as a prophet. Really, as we saw briefly in chapter 1, the book contains two very different genres, edifying narrative, and apocalyptic.

The pattern of the book is clear: chapters 1-6 are the edifying narrative type, of which we spoke in chapter 1 above. Chapters 7- 12 are apocalyptic; chapters 13-14 are narrative additions. We recall from chapter 4: Apocalyptic is a genre or pattern of writing in which the author describes visions and revelations. It is not usually clear if he meant to assert they were real, and not merely a vehicle for his message. They contain bizarre, highly colored images. Often there are figures of animals, to represent pagan empires, a horn to stand for a king or a power, and they often include an angel who interprets images. Apocalyptic is commonly a work to give consolation in time of severe trial. God is presented as Lord of history. There may be prediction of the future. Now if such predictions were made in a rather factual genre, we would need to maintain that they really were made before the events. However because of the highly colored imagery and fanciful nature of apocalyptic, the predictions may be made after the events pictured, without any dishonesty. It is understood such things may happen in this genre.

The dating of the book is debated. Most scholars would give a second century date, in the context of the terrible persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV, Epiphanes, of Syria; some others, especially the evangelistic type, would hold for 6th century. The argument for the later date depends much on the type of Hebrew used. But there are respectable replies to the linguistic arguments.

Most of Daniel is in Hebrew, yet chapters 2-7 are Aramaic. The reason for this is not fully clear. The suggestion has been made that the Hebrew chapters were for the special concerns of the Jewish people, while the Aramaic portions were intended especially for the gentiles - for Aramaic was the international language of diplomacy at the time.

In chapter 1 above we described the edifying narrative genre, and used it to explain the alleged defect in chronology in Daniel 1:1.

Otherwise, chapter 1 tells of the dedication of 4 Jewish youths in the exile to the dietary laws. Eating nothing but vegetables made them more healthy. We must add: If the story is factual, it will not prove that vegetarians always get such an effect: there, God miraculously supplied.

Chapter 2 contains the great vision of the four kingdoms, symbolized by the kinds of metal in a huge statue, which the king saw in a dream. Many have been tempted to see the 4th kingdom as Rome, so it may connect in time with the messianic kingdom, which comes after it. But we must note that the feet standing for that kingdom are part pottery, part iron - which do not mix. This hardly fits the strong power of Rome. Most interpreters take the four to be: Babylonian, Median, Persian, and Hellenistic kingdoms after the death of Alexander. We observe: if one follows that view, then there is a Median kingdom before the Persian, which would imply that Darius the Mede, who in 6:1 took Babylon, is a historical figure. Most writers say Darius is fictitious, that Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon. If so, we would say the edifying narrative genre could account for the matter. However, we must add that the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, in his Antiquities, 10, 245-49 (xi. 4) does report that there was a Darius the Mede, a kinsman, who would have ruled for Cyrus for a time while Cyrus was occupied with other things. Such an action would be quite in character with the known policies of Cyrus.

Other narrative incidents - the three men in the fiery furnace, the vision of the giant tree, and the stories in the appendix (chapters 13-14), could have served the purpose of encouraging the Jews to perseverance in fidelity to their laws at a time of persecution. The episode in chapter 4 of Nebuchadnezzar's temporary insanity (boanthropy) does seem strange. Yet we notice that the Babylonian records carry no entries of activity on his part between 582 and 575.

An objection used to be made about chapter 5: Belshazzar is presented as the last king of Babylon before its fall. But it was said that the cuneiform records showed the last king was Nabonidus. We now know that Nabonidus in the third year of his reign, 553, made his son Belshazzar coregent, and he himself left for Tema in Arabia, where he stayed for about ten years, and never reassumed the throne.

With chapter 7 we enter the strongly apocalyptic portion of the book. The four beasts rise from the sea, showing they are hostile and chaotic forces opposed to God. They seem to represent the same sequence of kingdoms as the vision of the great statue in chapter 2, except that here we get the detail of the small horn that spoke arrogantly, which at least seems to many to be Antiochus IV of Syria.

Chapter 7, verses 13-18 includes the famous vision of one like a son of man, who receives from the Ancient of Days dominion, glory and kingship that will never be taken away forever. Commentators like to make this individual son of man just the "holy ones of the most high." But this is unrealistic, the Jewish people never did get such a kingship, one that will last forever. Nor would Jewish thought suppose a headless kingdom. However if the figure is the Messiah, then we do have a rational explanation. In Hebrew thought we often meet an individual who stands for and as it were embodies a collectivity. Jesus often used the phrase Son of Man to refer to Himself. This was part of His deliberately gradual self- revelation.

Chapter 8 largely repeats the thought of chapter 7, in different imagery.

In chapter 9 we meet the famous enigmatic prophecy of 70 weeks of years.

We begin with 9:2 in which Daniel is told that the desolation of Jerusalem is to last 70 years.

First, we notice that the number 70 is normally round, as is 40. How free this can be can be seen from a comparison of the Hebrew text of Jonah 3:4 where Jonah says Nineveh will be destroyed in 40 days - along side of the Septuagint translation of the same line, where it is not 40 but 3 days. The 70 years to Jeremiah 25:11 were the length of the exile - very roundly, 70 years. But Daniel by inspiration sees that there is a further fulfillment of the 70.

The Fathers of the Church commonly understood chapter 9 as a prophecy of the Messiah - a view now usually dropped. Modern scholars want to make it fit the events of the time of Antiochus IV who persecuted the Jews, and desecrated the temple.

We can make it fit rather well with the time of Antiochus, thus:

1) Start with 605, the message to Jeremiah (25:11 - for 70 years they will be enslaved to the king of Babylon. In one sense, which Jeremiah saw, this meant the length of captivity - Daniel does not contradict, but extends the prophecy by taking weeks of years instead of single years, about 70 weeks of years.

2) 605 BC minus 62 weeks (434 years) extends to 171 BC, the death of Onias, the High Priest, the anointed one (9:26).

3) Persecution for one week = 7 years, goes from 171-164 (death of Onias to death of Antiochus). Antiochus makes the compact with many, the fallen Jews (v. 27).

4) The half week in v. 27 is 167-65, the time of desecration of the Temple.

But, there must be a reference to Christ also. We note that 9:24 is too grand - there was no everlasting justice, nor expiation of guilt after end of Antiochus. Now, St. Augustine wisely noted in City of God 17. 3, that some prophecies refer partly to OT events, partly to Christ - we know this when they do not fit either one perfectly. So 9:24 refers to Christ. "A most holy" could hardly refer to Onias - it does refer to Christ.

We add two details to the interpretation that takes the prophecy to refer to the period up to Antiochus:

1) The he in v. 27 may mean Antiochus making a deal with fallen Jews - but it might also vaguely refer to Jesus making the eternal covenant. After half a week Jesus abolishes the sacrifices of the old law, and starts the new regime.

2) V. 25 says seven weeks of years remain until Cyrus, God's anointed (as Isaiah 45:12 said, in the sense that God empowered him to crush Babylon and so to liberate the Jewish captives in 539). Jeremiah twice (25:11, dated in 605 BC, and 29:10, dated between 597 and 587, probably in 594) foretold the exile would last 70 years. From 594 to 539 is 55 years, not precisely seven weeks or 49 years. However, in this sort of prophecy that is a good enough approximation - we recall the case of Jonah 3:4 mentioned above.

We conclude: the prophecy of the seventy weeks works out rather well - with allowance for some approximation - in reference to the times leading up to Antiochus, yet verse 24 refers entirely to the time of Christ, and there may be vague allusions to that same time in verse 26.

From 10:1 to 11: 35 it is not hard to see a picture of the Hellenistic wars. But from 11:36 to the end of that chapter we meet many things that hardly fit Antiochus IV. The evil ruler in this passage magnifies himself above every god - this does not fit Antiochus, who put not a statue of himself but of Zeus in the Jerusalem temple. Verse 37 says he pays no attention to any god - again, this does not fit Antiochus. St. Jerome in his commentary on this passage thinks the figure is the Antichrist. Already in 8:17 the angel-interpreter told Daniel that the vision referred to the end- time. But we could make Antiochus a weak prefiguration of the horror of the Antichrist. In 11:45 the evil ruler will come to a sudden end, with no one to help him, seemingly at the beautiful holy mountain, which probably means Zion. But Antiochus met his end in Persia.

Some fanciful interpretations would make the "King of the North" in 11:40ff to be Russia.

Chapter 12 opens with a prediction of a great tribulation such as has never been before. This would fit with the time of the great Antichrist. Mt 24:21 speaks similarly of the tribulation at the end. There seems to a conflict between the angels in charge of various places, with Michael victorious.

In 12:2-3 a resurrection is clearly predicted. It is not clear if the "many" means the whole human race (cf. Hebrew rabbim), or only the just. We recall a similar prophecy in Isaiah 26:19. Chapter 12:4 tells Daniel to seal the prophecy, and says many will fall away and evil will increase: Again we are reminded of Mat 24:12, Lk 18. 8, and 2 Tim 3. ff.

Especially puzzling are the words of 12:7. Daniel in verse 6 had asked how long it would be until these things would happen. The angel said it would be a time, and times, and half a time, which seems to stand for three and a half - a frequent symbolic number in the Book of Revelation. And then, still in v. 7, come words whose translation has caused problems: The things will happen, "when the scattering of the power (hand) of the holy people has been completed [i.e., has come to an end]." Anchor Bible Daniel suggests that the line was mistranslated from an Aramaic original, and wants to read: "When the power of the desecrator of the holy people is brought to an end." But there is no need to suppose a mistranslation - Hebrew klh can mean to complete, to finish. Hence it is quite possible to render as we did above. Then the sense will be that the things predicted are to happen when the dispersion of the Jews finally comes to an end, before the end of time. This brings to mind the odd incident in 2 Macc. 2:4-8.

Of course, we are not certain, but this is an interesting speculation. The original RSV substantially agreed with our translation. NRSV "when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end... ."

Besides the chapters 13-14 which were added to the book of Daniel, there were two other additions: the prayer of Azariah and the canticle of the three young men in the furnace, inserted in the Greek text after 3:23. They were probably written separately from the book of Daniel towards the end of the 2nd century B.C. and were not accepted into the Hebrew text. But the Council of Trent has declared them inspired, and so part of Scripture.

Chapter 19: The Two Books of Maccabees

Both books are named after Judas Maccabeus, the third son of the priest Mattathias who began the revolt against Antiochus IV in 167. Antiochus, as a means of unifying his sprawling empire, tried to spread Greek culture. This entailed, for the Jews, apostasy from their faith. Many Jews did give up their faith and took up Greek ways, even building a gymnasium in Jerusalem; many became martyrs, but many others, led by the Maccabees, resisted with an army, and made possible the survival of Judaism until the time of Christ, being the root of the Hasmonean dynasty (which later proved that power corrupts).

Mattathias was so bold as to kill the king's agent who came to force Jews to sacrifice to the gods in Modein, his city. Then they fled to the hills, and other loyal Jews joined them (1 Macc 2:1- 28).

Second Maccabees is not a continuation of First Maccabees. Both cover much of the same period. First Maccabees tells the history, beginning with Alexander the Great, and from the accession of Antiochus IV in 175, to the death of Simon Maccabeus in 134.

Second Maccabees covers the same period, but closes with a crucial victory won by Judas in 165.

First Maccabees relies at least in part on the recollections of those who had been witnesses of the events. The idea of the genre of history seen in it is closer to ours than are the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. Its message is that keeping the law brings blessings and divine support.

Second Maccabees, after an introduction by the author, explicitly says that it is summarizing a five volume work of Jason of Cyrene (mentioned in 2:23). The author refers us to the fuller work of Jason for more details (2:28). Here the genre is also history, but closer to the rhetorical type of history which permits perhaps a bit of freedom at times.

First Maccabees was originally written in Hebrew, and shows Hebrew style by the frequent use of and to connect sentences. We have only the Greek text. The Hebrew was probably written near the start of the first century B.C. Second Maccabees is earlier, probably written in Egypt, most likely around the end of the second century B.C. Its Greek is of good literary quality.

Second Maccabees shows a deep religious spirit. God is given all the titles form the older books of the Old Testament, with the addition of ho epiphanes kyrios - the Lord who appears - in contrast to Antiochus Epiphanes.

A belief in the future life, or at least, resurrection, is entirely clear, especially in chapter 7, in the narrative of the martyrdom of the mother and her seven sons, and also in 14:46.

There is more testimony to the same belief in the account in 12:38-46, of the fallen Jewish soldiers who had pagan amulets on them. Judas took up a collection to have sacrifice offered in the Temple for their souls - thus giving a testimony to a belief in purgatory.

In the same spirit, we see the dream of Maccabeus showing that the deceased Jeremiah and Onias were praying for the living: 15:11-16.

Of especial interest is the account in 2:1-8 of Jeremiah hiding the ark, and telling his followers later it was to be hidden until God gathers his people together again and shows mercy. (Let us recall the translation we proposed above for Daniel 12:7). But we must not overlook the fact that 2:1 says we will "find this incident in the records". So inspiration merely guarantees that the story was in some records - it does not guarantee that the episode is true in itself.

The death of Antiochus is told in chapter 9, out of sequence, for the sake of grouping of material.

Finally in 6:13-16 we read the fullest account of the frequent Scriptural theme of filling up the measure of sins. The author is meditating on the fact that they are so afflicted by the persecution, and says: "It is a sign of great kindness not to let the irreverent run a long time, but to punish them at once. In handling other peoples, the Lord in long-suffering waits until they reach the full measure of their sins before He punishes them. But with us He acts differently, so that He may not have to punish us more severely later when our sins would reach their fullness". This same theme appears many other times in Scripture: cf. Genesis 15:16; Mt. 24:12; 1 Cor 11:32; 1 Ths 2:15-16.

Chapter 20: The Books of Judith, Esther, and Tobit

In Daniel we saw two genres, one of which was the edifying narrative type. Now we have a large example of this type in the story of Judith, and perhaps in Esther and Tobit.

Judith: Nebuchadnezzar, "King of the Assyrians" declares war on the Medes, ruled by King Arphaxad. The Persians and western nations, including the Jews, refuse to aid in the attack. Nebuchadnezzar does defeat the Medes, and then is angry with the west even though many did not fight against him. He sends his general Holofernes to take revenge. Holofernes quickly conquers Damascus, and is about to attack the Jewish city of Bethulia and cut off the water supply. The citizens urge their leaders to surrender, Uzziah, the chief elder, calls for a delay of five days.

Judith, an extremely beautiful widow calls the elders to hear her plan. Counting on God, she adorns herself, goes to the enemy camp, and is taken before Holofernes. She told him the Jews can easily be conquered since they were about to sin by eating consecrated food. Holofernes invites her to a private banquet. There he becomes very drunk. Judith beheads him while he is in the drunken stupor. She takes his head back to Bethulia. She then is led in triumph to Jerusalem, and composes a hymn of thanksgiving, and lives to a great age.

It is obvious that the story is fictional, e.g., Nebuchadnezzar (605-562) was king of Babylon, not Assyria, and is pictured as reigning from Nineveh, which fell in 612. Also, the Jews are said to have just come back from exile and to have rebuilt the temple - all impossible.

The text exists only in Greek.

Esther: Ahasuerus, King of Persia - probably the same as Xerxes (485-65) at a banquet tells his queen Vasthi to come with her royal robes so he may display her beauty to the guests. She refuses. The king is angry and she is deposed. He then orders a search for the most beautiful successor to her. Esther, a Jewess is chosen. Mordecai, her cousin and former guardian, learns of a plot to kill the king and informs him through Esther. Soon after this, Haman, the prime minister, is angered at Mordecai's refusal to pay him homage. He obtains an edict for the extermination of the Jews, but Esther invites him to a banquet with the king, and there reveals what Haman plans. The king is furious, Haman is executed. Mordecai is made prime minister, and all the Jews are authorized to defend themselves - for the order, a decree of the Medes and Persians, which the King had given, cannot be undone.

The feast of Purim commemorates the rescue. Pur means "lot". Haman had cast lots to determine the day for the slaughter of the Jews.

Is this another fictional story? It is more difficult to say. Most scholars today would say it is fictional. Yet the story shows good knowledge of Persian customs. Archaeological evidence shows there was a prime minister Mordecai at about the supposed time of the story. And there are references to official documents in 2:23; 6:1; and 10:2.

It exists in a shorter Hebrew form, and a Greek form with additions of 107 more verses telling the dream of Mordecai, the prayer of Mordecai, edicts of the king, a second account of Esther's appeal to the king, the prayer of Esther. The Hebrew form does not mention God, the Greek makes divine intervention the key to the solution. And the existence of the Feast of Purim is some evidence for historicity.

Tobit: The devout man Tobit is in exile "in the days of Shalmaneser, King of the Assyrians". He has to flee from Nineveh because, contrary to edict, he has buried the bodies of slain Jews. He returns, but becomes blind from bird dung falling on his eyes while he was asleep.

Meanwhile at Ecbatana in Media, Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, a kinsman of Tobit is sad since the demon Asmodeus killed four husbands of hers successively, each on the wedding night.

God sent the Archangel Raphael help Tobiah, son of Tobit, to get funds Tobit had left in trust in Media. Raphael escorts Tobiah there and back. He enables him to marry Sarah without dying. Tobiah uses the heart and liver of a great fish to rout the demon. He also takes back the gall of the fish to heal his father's eyes. When that is done, Raphael reveals his identity, most dramatically.

The text survives in two, rather different recensions. The original language may have been Hebrew or Aramaic. St. Jerome said he used a "Chaldaic" text for his Vulgate version.

The date of composition has been estimated as early as 6th century, as late as 70 AD. Second century B.C. is most probable.

The character of Tobit as edifying narrative is obvious from the confusion of 7th century Assyrian history.

Chapter 22: The Gospels

We already saw, in chapter 2, how we can find out for certain which books are inspired: for that we use apologetics. It would be good to reread that section now.

Authors' Names: Even though we do not really need to know the names of the authors of the Gospels - it is enough to know that they had access to the facts (which we showed in chapter 2 above) and were concerned for their own eternity, and so would use the facts carefully. But it is interesting to review what early writers say abut the authors of the Gospels.

The earliest testimony comes from Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis. Around 130 AD he wrote Exegesis of the Lord's Sayings. We depend on Eusebius (3. 39), the first Church historian, writing around the year 300, for several quotations from it. Papias says he inquired from those who had heard the Apostles and disciples of the Lord. St. Irenaeus, who wrote around 200 AD, in his work Against Heresies (5. 33. 4), tells us that Papias was a companion of St. Polycarp, who had known St. John the Apostle personally.

Papias tells us about Mark: "Mark became the interpreter of Peter, and wrote accurately the doings and sayings of the Lord, not in sequence, but all that he remembered. For he [Mark] had not heard the Lord, or followed Him, but, as I said, followed Peter later on, who, as needed, gave teaching, but did not make an arrangement of the sayings of the Lord. He gave attention to one thing, to leave nothing out of what he had heard, and to make no false statements about them."

Some question the value of Papias' testimony, since Eusebius (3. 39) said Papias was a man of small intelligence. But they did not notice the matter about which Eusebius was speaking: He objected that Papias believed in a 1000 years reign of Christ on earth between two resurrections. That error is one many picked up from the difficult chapter 20 of Apocalypse/Revelation. So it really is not anything against the intelligence of Papias if he made the same mistake many others (including St. Justin and St. Irenaeus) also did. Really, not much intelligence is needed to report what ancient witnesses said about the authorship of the Gospels. So many do recognize the value of Papias. In fact, Martin Hengel, Professor at the University of Tubingen, the fountainhead of so many leftist views about Scripture, wrote that he does believe that Mark wrote from the preaching of Peter (In: Studies in the Gospel of Mark, Fortress, Philadelphia, 1985, p. 107).

The so-called AntiMarcionite Prologue to Mark, dating perhaps from around 160 AD, repeats that Mark wrote from the preaching of Peter, and adds the odd detail that Mark was "stumpfingered" - an uncomplimentary detail not likely to have been invented.

Papias also said that, "Matthew collected the sayings [of Jesus] in the Hebrew language, and each interpreted them as he could." We do not know the relation of this (now lost) Hebrew Matthew to our present Greek Matthew.

St. Irenaeus (3. 1. 1) gives us similar testimony about Mark, and adds that Luke was a follower of Paul, and wrote from his preaching.

In chapter 3 above we answered the chief reasons given for a late date for Matthew and Luke.

Synoptic Problem: The synoptics are Matthew, Mark and Luke. The problem is this: there seem to be considerable similarities in them, even in wording. How can we account for that? For centuries everyone had assumed that the traditional order, which we have just given, was the order of composition.

How great are these similarities? They are considerable. One can get a good look that at them by using a harmony of the Gospels, in which all four Gospels are printed in parallel columns, so that similar items in each are printed on the same level of lines. The most useful of these works is: Alan Kurt, (ed.) Synopsis of the Four Gospels. Greek-English Edition of Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum, with the text of the Revised Standard version, London: United Bible Societies, 1979. To be certain of what similarities there are, of course one should use the Greek.

We do find great similarities in content, and even some similarities in wording. Yet the wording is not always as close as one might suppose. A study of that Synopsis or a similar work will make that clear.

The question is: How do we account for the similarities? The most favored solution for long as been the Two Source Theory. It supposes that Mark wrote first, that Matthew and Luke used his Gospel much of the time, but when Matthew and Luke run largely together, without Mark, there was another source, which has been called Q (for German Quelle, Source).

Out of 661 verses in Mark, about 600 are found substantially in Matthew, and about 350 in Luke. Also, Matthew and Luke have about 236 verses in common that are not found in Mark, but Matthew has about 330 verses not found in the other two.

If we look for verses found in all three: Mark as 330 such verses out of 661; Matthew has 330 out of 1068 and Luke has 330 out of 1150. There are 230 verses common to Matthew and Luke.

But there are also some verses special to each Gospel, which the others do not have: Mark has 50, Matthew has over 315, Luke has over 500 special to himself.

The arguments for and against the Two Source Theory are very technical. Let us comment on the first step, the belief that Mark wrote first. The chief arguments in favor of that view are these: 1)Mark has kept 3 Aramaic expressions, as against one in Matthew; 2)Matthew and Luke seem to speak more reverentially about Jesus than does Mark, in whose Gospel only once is Jesus addressed as Lord. These arguments are interesting, but hardly enough to prove anything.

One of the chief proofs of the Two Source theory is the presence of doublets, i.e., instances where one Gospel gives the same saying twice. It is suggested that this indicates copying -not too intelligently - from two sources. But these are not too impressive. For example in chapter 9, Luke reports a trial mission of the twelve, then in chapter 10 he reports the Lord sent out seventy others. But these are different groups. Further, Jesus was a traveling speaker. As such He would often repeat things, probably in slightly different forms.

There are some impressive arguments against thinking Mark wrote first. A study by this author, "Did St. Luke Imitate the Septuagint?" in Journal for the Study of the New Testament (15, 1982, pp. 30-41) shows many cases in which Luke uses a very odd Semitic structure that in no case at all is found in the parallel passages in Mark. It is the apodotic kai. Here is an example, from Lk 5:1: "And it happened, when the crowd pressed on Him to hear the word of God, and He stood by the lake of Gennesaret." The and does not fit in English, Latin, Greek or even Aramaic. But it is common in Hebrew. Now Luke in his opening verses said he consulted eyewitnesses and written accounts. It is likely he would have met written accounts in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. So we suggest Luke meant what he said, and he was translating, at some points, Hebrew documents in a slavish fashion, i.e., he brought a Hebrew structure into Greek, where it does not belong. The fact that Luke uses this structure only from 20 to 25% of the time he would have used it if he were translating an all Hebrew document, shows he was using Hebrew only at points. At other points, he writes a good quality of Greek.

Still further, there are various points where Luke adds other Semitisms which are not found in Mark. H. F. D. Sparks comments ("The Semitisms of St. Luke's Gospel," in Journal of Theological Studies, 44, 1943, p. 130) that Luke is notable for a "continual rephrasing of St. Mark, in order to add Semitisms." An example is in the parable of the wicked husbandmen. When Mark tells it in 12:1-12, after the first servants are mistreated the master "sent another". But Luke (20:9-19) says "And he added to send another... And he added to send a third." The added reflects the Hebrew idiomatic use of ysf, which Mark, a Hebrew did not use. M. Zerwick (Graecitas Biblica, ed. 4, Romae, Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1960, #361) shows that Luke often uses an Aramaic pattern, a form of the verb to be plus a participle, instead of an imperfect indicative. Luke has 50% of all instances of this in the whole New Testament. Yet, where Mark does have the structure, Luke usually avoids it, but does use it in places parallel to Mark, but where Mark does not have it.

Also, there is the case of the so-called minor agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark, i.e., in some passages found in all three Gospels, Matthew and Luke agree in differing from Mark in small points, e.g., in Mt 21:1-9 and Luke 19:28-37 there are 17 points on which Matthew and Luke agree, but disagree with Mark.

There is much more. As a result, a good number of modern scholars no longer think Mark wrote first.

Some scholars today, e.g., W. F. Albright, and C. S. Mann (Anchor Bible, Matthew, p. li) say it is easier to suppose that Matthew and Luke each used their own sources than to suppose one evangelist saw the other's work, and went in for some radical editorial revision - without the help of a computer.

Genre of the Gospels: It is sometimes said that the Gospels are just "documents of faith." The expression is not wrong, but can be quite misleading. It could imply that we have no proof that the Gospels contain the truth about Jesus, they are just a description of the faith of His followers. We saw in our sketch of apologetics in chapter 2 above that we can get the solid truth about Jesus from them. That truth was and is wanted for the sake of faith, so we may have faith in Him and in His Church. But first, without calling on faith, we showed, in apologetics, that we can get the facts. Only then is there place for faith. So we are far from the really irrational notion that we just decide to believe, with no foundation.

The background helps us: the ancient historians of Greece and Rome were concerned to get the facts. They added interpretations, but did not let them interfere with the facts. Now the tradition of writing among the Hebrews was in a way even more concerned about getting facts. So many Greeks and Romans held cyclic ideas - everything goes in cycles, and then starts all over again. But the Hebrews did not believe in such cycles: history was marching ahead to a goal, the coming of the Messiah. And Christians recognize a central event, the redemption, to which everything else leads up, on which all else depends.

So the Gospels basically belong to the historical genre. We saw this was true because the writers believed their eternity depended on the facts about Jesus, and they had ample opportunity to get the facts. They do at times add interpretations for the sake of faith. But as we saw in chapter 2 above, we can tell the difference. As to the saying," There is no such thing as an uninterpreted report," i.e., one not colored by the subjectivity of the one who reports - that coloring does occur often. But we saw there are some things so directly and simply picked up by eyes and ears that there is no room for distortion, e.g., if a leper stands before Jesus asking to be healed, and He says: "I will it. Be healed," anyone present could see it happen. There could be total fakery, but no other change. And fakery is, as we said, ruled out by the writers' concern for eternity.

The Evangelists did not, however, always present the facts in chronological sequence. They often grouped things, for their own special purposes, e.g., the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew is likely to be a grouping of things Jesus said on several different occasions. And parables are often put in groups. Obviously, such things do not at all affect the truth.

Further, as we can learn from Form and Redaction Criticism, which we saw in Chapter 6 above, the way the Apostles and others in the primitive Church reported the saying of Jesus - and the way the Evangelists wrote them down - might not always keep the same wording. It is normal and good for a writer or speaker to adapt the presentation to the current audience. But they would keep the same sense - again, concern for their eternal fate.

The 1964 Instruction, as we saw in chapter 6 above, adds that the Evangelists wrote in the light of their better understanding which they had later. This is obvious. But it would not lead them to falsify anything, e.g., they still portray the Apostles as dull, selfish, slow to catch on. Cf. Jn 2:19-21; 3:22; 6:6; 12;16; 20:9.

Genre of the Infancy Gospels: Some today say that there is little factual content in chapters 1-2 of Matthew and Luke. Especially, Luke just built up a very few facts by using parallels from the Old Testament. A very good answer to this claim comes from John L. McKenzie, far from a conservative, who wrote a review of R. Brown's, The Birth of the Messiah, which makes such claims. Even though McKenzie was a friend of Brown's he wrote in a review of the book (National Catholic Reporter, Dec. 2, 1977, p. 10), "One wonders how a gentile convert [Luke]... could have acquired so quickly the mastery of the Greek Old Testament shown in the use of the Old Testament in Luke's infancy narratives... . Luke must have had a source... and as it is hard to think of such a collection of texts without a narrative for them to illustrate, a pre-Lucan infancy narrative is suggested, I beg to submit."

Pope Paul VI spoke strongly on the historicity of these chapters (Allocution of Dec. 28, 1966, Insegnamenti di Paolo VI. IV. pp. 678-79, Vatican Press, 1966). He complained that some "try to diminish the historical value of the Gospels... especially those that refer to the birth of Jesus and His infancy... these pages are not inventions of people's fancy, but ... they speak the truth... . The authority of the Council has not pronounced differently on this: 'The Sacred Authors wrote... always in such a way that they reported on Jesus with sincerity and truth [Constitution on Divine Revelation # 19]. '" LG # 57 speaks in a most factual way on these events. Pope John Paul II in a General Audience of January 18, 1988 said: "To identify the source of the infancy narrative, one must go back to St. Luke's remark: 'Mary kept all these things pondering them in her heart. '... Mary... could bear witness after Christ's death and resurrection, in regard to what concerned herself and her role as Mother, precisely in the apostolic period when the New Testament texts were being written... ." It is quite obvious that she would be the prime source. Yet some today say, without foundation, that she was not.

The study mentioned of apodotic kai in Luke shows his extreme care for accuracy: how then could he, right after saying he consulted eyewitnesses and written accounts, go into something so loose and fanciful as the objectors would claim?

The objections raised against the historicity of the infancy narratives are mostly inane. They say that according to Matthew, Mary and Joseph lived in Bethlehem and had their home there. But Luke said they were visitors to Bethlehem without a place to stay. The basis for this strange remark is that in Mt 2:11, the Magi found Mary and Joseph and Jesus in a house. But: would Joseph stay in a stable long? Of courses not, he would soon find lodging.

It is also said that the flight into Egypt cannot be fitted with Luke's account. But it can easily fit: First, the Magi did not come on the day of Jesus' birth - the fact that Herod ordered a slaughter of babies 2 yrs old and under suppose quite a bit of time even though he would play it safe and kill with a margin. So before the Magi came there was time for the circumcision and presentation in the temple, then the flight to Egypt, and after some time, the return.

The only objection worth considering is about the "census" at the time of the birth of Jesus. However, new research by E. L. Martin (The Birth of Christ Recalculated, Academy for Scriptural Knowledge, Box 5000, Portland, Or. 97225) provides the solution. All estimates of the date of Jesus' birth depend on a statement by the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, that Herod died just after an eclipse of the moon. Martin shows that only if we pick the eclipse of Jan 10, 1 BC will there be enough time for all the events Josephus describes between the death of Herod and the next Passover. Further, Emperor Augustus was to get the great title, Father of His Country, in 2 B.C. That was known far in advance, so the actual governor of the Holy Land would have gone to Rome for the celebration, probably in the fall of 3 BC. (sailing on the Mediterranean was too dangerous in the winter, after Nov. 1). We know from secular sources that in 3 BC people were taking an oath of allegiance to Augustus, in preparation for the great event. So that was the apographe - a broad word, which can mean census, or any sort of registration. The governor needed to have a competent man to manage affairs in his absence. Quirinius had just before that time finished a successful war up north. So he was put in charge. St. Luke's Greek does not call him governor, but says he was governing. So the problem is easily solved.

The genealogies in the infancy Gospels have caused much discussion, since they seem not to agree. One can bring about agreement by supposing a number of Levirate marriages - that is marriages following the Old Testament law that if a married man died with no children, his brother should take his wife to raise up children to continue his line. But this is not really necessary. We now know that ancient genealogies are often constructed not as family trees, but were artificial structure, to bring out something else: Cf. R. Wilson, in Biblical Archaeologist, 42, Winter, 1979, pp. 11- 22.

Jesus chose to remain in a hidden life with His Mother, the Mother of God, until about age 30. His conduct then was so unobtrusive that when He finally did begin to display His power, the townspeople found it hard to accept. He wanted to show the value our Father attaches to a good family life lived in even an ordinary way.

Faith Holding on in the Dark: At age 12 He caused grief to Mary and Joseph by remaining behind in the Temple without telling them. They did not understand His response - that need not mean they did not know who He was. No, it was the departure from the compliant way of life He had been living. He did this as part of a divine pattern, in which God puts people into situations in which it seems impossible to believe or to hold on to His will, such as He did to Abraham, when He ordered him to sacrifice Isaac, even though He had promised Abraham would be the father of a great nation by Isaac. Another instance was His promise of the Eucharist in John 6 - He could have easily explained He would change bread and wine into His body and blood, so there would be no cannabilism. But He wanted them to hold on in the dark. If a person does that, his/her will must adhere powerfully to the divine will - and in that lies perfection. The same pattern is found in His reply to His Mother at Cana, when He seemed to reject her request. She understood, however, in faith, and the result was that in response to her intercession, He worked His first miracle, advancing the hour. And the pattern appeared again when in a crowd He said that he who does the will of His Father is Father, Mother, and brother to Him (Mk 3:31-35 - in this incident He was teaching dramatically that out of two great dignities, to hear the word of God and keep it is even greater than to be the physical Mother of God. Of course, she was at the peak in both categories).

Problem of Mark 3:20-35: The entire passage in which this last incident lies, Mk 3:20-35, has been the occasion of some really outrageous comments. There are three segments to this passage: 1) 20-21: The hoi par' autou (could be His relatives, friends, those about Him) see He is preaching so intently to the crowds that He does not take time to eat. They go out to grab (kratesai) him, by force it seems. 2)22-30: Scribes from Jerusalem say that He casts out devils by the prince of devils. He answers them, says that is the unforgivable sin; 3)31-35: His Mother and "brothers" come to a crowd to which He is speaking. Their presence is announced to Him. He replies: Who is my Mother and my brothers?... He who does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother."

Some incredibly outrageous comments have been made in print about these three passages. The commentators in question assume that the group in segment 1 is the same as that in segment 3. That may be true, but cannot be proved. Form Criticism shows us that Gospel passages may be put together out of originally separate units. The second segment is a strange interlude, and makes it not at all certain it is the same group with segments 1 and 3. But, some commentators insist, it is the same group, and so His Mother did not believe in Him! One commentator even said she was outside the sphere of salvation!

As we said, it is not certain she was in the group of segment 1 - the hoi par autou is not very definite. Even if she were, could we be sure she did not believe in Him? Very ordinary Mothers stand up for their sons even when they are clearly guilty. She would be less than ordinary! Could she not have gone along - if indeed she did - to hold down the others? That is quite plausible.

But most of all, St. Luke's Gospel presents her, in the annunciation passage, as the first believer. Vatican II endorses this in LG # 56 and says that even at the start, "she totally dedicated herself to the person and work of her Son." The blind commentators ignore the Council, about which they speak so favorably otherwise. They say each Evangelist may have his own scope and approach. True. But they cannot make one Evangelist contradict another, for the chief author of all Scripture is the one Holy Spirit: cf. Vatican II, DV # 12. Of course when many today attribute all kinds of errors to Scripture, perhaps this is not too strange.

We already explained above, that His words about who are His mother and His brothers were just a dramatic way of teaching that out of two dignities - that of Mother of God, and that of hearing the word and keeping it - the second is the greater. She was at the peak in both classes: LG # 58.

Our Lady's Knowledge about Jesus: Still further, when did she come to know who He was? At the annunciation itself, as soon as the angel said her Son would reign over the house of Jacob forever, any ordinary Jew - not just the one full of grace - would know that it was the Messiah, for only He was to reign forever, according to the usual Jewish belief of the day. Then all the Messianic prophecies - which even the Targums understood - would come to her mind, if not at the same moment, yet surely in a short while, as she was "pondering in her heart."

Brothers of Jesus: As to His "brothers" in Mk 3:31, any competent scholar knows that Hebrew ah means more than blood brothers - almost any relative can be meant. Lot, nephew of Abraham (Gen 11:27-31), is called his brother in Gen 13:8 and 14:14-16, Really, Hebrew had no word for cousin, indeed was very poor in words for specific relationships of any kind. Further, Mk 6:3 names the following as "brothers" of Jesus: James, Joses, Judas and Simon. Mt. 13:55 gives the same names. But we see from Mk 15:40 that at the cross was Mary the Mother of James and Joseph (Joses). From which we gather that James and Joses had a different Mother, not Mary the Mother of Jesus (cf. also Mt 27:56. Of course, the decision of the Church is the most basic reason for knowing they were not sons of Mary the Mother of Jesus, for the Church teaches she was aeiparthenos, ever-virgin, in conceiving, in giving birth, in the time after His birth.

A further objection: Greek did have words for cousins etc? So adelphos in the Greek Gospels must mean blood brother. Reply: The LXX was written in Greek, yet it uses calls Lot a brother of Abraham. Often in reading St. Paul we must look to the underlying Hebrew word in his mind in order to understand the Greek, e.g., Paul in Romans 9 cites Malachi: "I have loved Jacob and hated Esau." We must see the Hebrew lack of degrees of comparison here, even though Paul wrote Greek, which did have them, and the LXX for Malachi also was in Greek. (The expression means: love one more, the other less). Paul often uses the word know in the sense of Hebrew yada. And there are numerous other examples.

Parables and Blinding: It is right after this incident that Mark narrates the beginning of His parables, and says He began to teach this way "so that seeing they might look and not see, and hearing they might hear and not understand." These words are from Isaiah 6:9-10. They have been much discussed of course. St. Mark quotes them in the form found in the Targum. St. Matthew quotes Isaiah in softer form (13:13-15): "Therefore do I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear." Isaiah had used imperative forms: "Hearing hear, but do not understand, seeing see, but do not perceive... ."

First, we need to note that it is well known that the Hebrews often attributed to positive direct action of God what He only permits, e.g., in 1 Sam 4:3, after a defeat by the Philistines, the Hebrew text has them saying: "Why did the Lord strike us today before the face of the Philistines?"' And often during the plagues before the Exodus, the text says that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh.

But Jesus did not really want to blind them. In Mt 23;37 He wept over Jerusalem because they would not listen.

So we need a different way to understand the purpose of parables. It is this: We might think of two spirals in the reactions of people to parables - and other things too. Let us imagine a man who has never been drunk before, but tonight he gets very drunk. The next day there will be guilt feelings - we specified it was the first time. Over time, something must give: either he will align his actions with his beliefs, or his beliefs will be pulled to match his actions. In other words, if he continues to get drunk, he will lose the ability to see there is anything wrong with getting drunk. But other beliefs are interconnected, and so his ability to see spiritual things becomes more and more dull.

In the other direction, if one lives vigorously in accord with faith, which tells us the things of this world are hardly worth a mention compared to the things of eternity (cf. Phil 3:7-8), such a one grows gradually more and more in understanding of spiritual things; he is on the good spiral. So the parables are a magnificent device of our Father, showing both mercy and justice simultaneously. To one who goes on the bad spiral, the blindness is due in justice, yet it is also mercy, for the more one realizes, the greater his responsibility. On the good spiral, the growing light is in a sense justice for good living; yet more basically it is mercy, for no creature by its own power can establish a claim on God. So in both directions, mercy and justice are identified, even as they are in the divine essence, where all attributes are identified with each other.

Rather similarly, Pius XII said (Divino afflante Spiritu: EB 563) that God deliberately sprinkled Scripture with difficulties to cause us to work harder and so get more out of them.

Nature of Parable: There has been much discussion about parables in general: A. Julicher in 1888 made the mistake of starting with the concept of a parable in Greek rhetoric - and insisted there must be only one point to a parable, or it would be an allegory. But this view has been largely abandoned thanks to a study of rabbinic parables, which, although they are quite different from those of Jesus, yet did help us to see Julicher was wrong. (For a collection of rabbinic parables, cf. H. K. McArthur & Robert M. Johnston, They Also Taught in Parables, Zondervan, 1990 - it contains 115 actual rabbinic parables plus related items and studies of similarities and differences).

Explanations of Parables and Retrojection: Most scholars today think the explanations of parables given in the Gospels are not by Jesus, but came later from the Church. But this would attribute falsity to the Gospel statements that Jesus said these things. Now there is such a thing as retrojection - a process in which something Jesus actually said after Easter is presented as if said before Easter. As long as He really said it, this is not really deceptive. But to say He said something He did not say at all, that would be deception.

Gradual Self-revelation:The same lack of complete clarity of His teaching was part of His deliberately gradual self-revelation. What would have happened had He opened His public life by saying: "Before Abraham came to be, I AM"?

We can see this gradual character from an examination of the titles given Jesus. He called Himself often "Son of Man." Some claim He meant some other person. But it is clear that He is the earthly Son of Man when He says the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath (Mk 2:28) or when in Lk 9:58 He says, "Foxes have their holes... but the Son of Man has nowhere to recline His head." He is also the suffering Son of Man, for He predicted at least three times that the Son of Man would suffer and rise (e.g., Mk 8:31) and then He did precisely that. He is clearly the Son of Man to come at the end - from the parable of the weeds in Mt 13:26-41 and from Lk 17:24-26 which equates the suffering and the eschatological Son of Man.

Was there a current Aramaic expression, bar ('e) nasha to mean merely "I" or "a man in my situation"? This is much debated.

In Mt 24:30 He said, "they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Which ties clearly to the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13-14: "Behold with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of Man. He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented to Him. He was given dominion and glory and kingdom so that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is everlasting." Many think that the Son of Man in Daniel means the "holy ones of the Most High." But it does not fit. (We spoke of this in our comments on Daniel). They, whether we take them to be the ancient Jews or the Christians later, never did get an everlasting kingdom. Nor would the Jews ever think of a Messianic kingdom as headless - the head was the Messiah. We note Jesus spoke Mt 24:38 late, towards the end of His earthly life, so the revelation by this title was indeed gradual.

So here would be something for people to ponder, so that the good would get more and more clarity, the evil would lose all. We need not suppose Daniel saw all this. That is not necessary, for the chief author the Holy Spirit, could see it. We have cases where this sort of thing seems to have happened in Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14 (identified as such by LG # 55).

Without using the title Son of Man, Jesus in Mt 7:22-23 indicates He is the judge at the end.

Many follow W. Wrede's book, The Messianic Secret (first appeared in German in 1901). Wrede said Jesus did not call Himself Messiah: The Church was embarrassed, faked incidents where it would come up, where He would enjoin silence, e.g., after raising the daughter of Jairus, He called for silence. Wrede said this is foolish, fakery. Anyone could see the girl was alive. But Jesus was alone in the house with the parents, Peter, James and John. He needed quiet only long enough to slip out and get on the way to the next town - so people would not seize Him and proclaim Him King Messiah if they knew what He had done. (in Chapter 6 we examined R. H. Fuller's analysis of Mark 8:29 ff. and saw it was faulty).

Jesus often spoke of God as His Father, and carefully avoided saying Our Father (except to teach them the prayer) - otherwise He said My Father, Your Father. In the parable of the wicked tenants (Mk 12:6; Lk 20:13) Jesus clearly meant Himself by the "beloved son" - the Pharisees present grasped that. But the Greek is agapeton, which the Septuagint uses to translate Hebrew yahid, only son.

He also said He was greater than Jonah, claimed authority over the Torah, said He could forgive sins, and as we saw, said He was the eschatological judge. When asked about John the Baptist, Jesus said John was Elijah (Mt 11: 9-15), of whom it was written, "Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you." - Jesus used the then current adaptation of Mal 3:1, made by combining it with Ex 23:20. But Mal 3:1 in the Hebrew said: "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before my face." So Elijah at the end will be the forerunner of the coming of God Himself. This seems to imply Jesus is Yahweh Himself!

As to the clear texts in John: Before Abraham came to be, I am" and "I and the Father are one". - It is likely these were spoken only shortly before His death, when there was no more reason for a gradual character to His self-revelation. The time had passed for that, and the hardness of His enemies was complete.

The Consciousness of Christ: Even without using the strong texts from John, we can see how He understood His own self. In his Encyclical on the Mystical Body (DS 3812) Pius XII taught that from the first instant of conception, the human soul of Jesus saw the vision of God, in which all knowledge is available. in Sempiternus rex (DS 3905) Pius XII complained people were not accepting this teaching. He repeated the teaching in Haurietis aquas (DS 3924). The Holy Office under Paul VI (July 24, 1966) complained of non-acceptance. Yet Pius XII, in 1950, in Humani generis (DS 3885) said such Encyclical texts fall under the promise of Christ, "He who hears you, hears me"(Lk 10:16) and added that when a Pope in his Acta expressly takes a stand on a point currently debated, it is removed from debate. The debate was current already when Pius XII wrote the Encyclical on the Mystical Body in 1943, because a book by P. Galtier in 1939 had started the modern discussion.

Theological reasoning by itself shows He must have had that vision. For any soul has the vision if the divinity joins itself directly to the human mind/soul, without even an image in between (no image could represent the infinite God). But in Jesus this was more true than in other souls that have the vision, for not just His human mind/soul, but His entire humanity was joined to the divinity in the unity of one Person.

This knowledge caused Him suffering in anticipation of His passion, even from the start of His life. A long running stress would become even more severe. His divine power could have prevented the anxiety, but He had decided (Phil 2:7) not to use His power for Himself. Unprotected humanity would have to feel anxiety in such a situation. He admitted this interior distress to us in Lk 12:50 and John 12:27. His Mother too knew, since as we saw, she beginning at the annunciation, understood the prophecies of His passion. So, she suffered long years. Then at the cross she was asked - for all holiness lies in willing what God wills - to even will His death, so dreadful a death, in spite of her love, which was so great that "none greater under God can be thought of, and only God can comprehend it" (Pius IX, in Ineffabilis Deus, 1854. He was speaking of her holiness, but that word is interchangeable with love).

Luke 2:52 says He advanced in wisdom. The Fathers wrestled with this text, St. Athanasius solved it: There was no real growth in wisdom, but growth in what He manifested at each point. If He had shown His knowledge at for example age 3 it would have been shocking. Similarly in Mk 13:32 He says He does not know the day of the end. Pope St. Gregory the Great solved this saying that "He knew it in His humanity, but not from His humanity, i.e., it registered on His human mind, but His humanity was not the source of the information.

A full treatment of His knowledge is found in Wm. G. Most, The Consciousness of Christ, Christendom, Front Royal VA 1980).

The Kingdom and the Church: He often spoke of the coming of the Kingdom. We can see from such texts as the parables of the net and the weeds in the wheat, and from Mt 21:43 that the Kingdom often means the Church in this world and/or the next. Even many nonconservative scholars see this, e.g., John L. McKenzie, in his Dictionary of the Bible, p. 480, or R. Brown in The Churches the Apostles Left Behind (Paulist, pp. 51-52), cf. his Responses to 101 Questions on the Bible, p. 12 (Paulist, 1990). The Revised NAB has adopted "Kingdom of God" where it formerly had "Reign of God." (We grant that "kingdom" does at times have other senses, but it often, especially in the passages cited above, does refer to the Church).

Jesus and the Law: He reaffirmed the law (Mt. 5:17): "I am come not to destroy but to fulfill."

Yet His enemies accused Him of breaking the law. The key to the answer is in Mk 7:1-13. The Pharisees had just rebuked Jesus' followers for eating with unwashed hands - the Pharisees and others frequently washed hands, and observed baptisms of various utensils. So Jesus answered them in the words of Isaiah 29:13: "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." And He added: "They leave aside the command of God and hold to the tradition of men." They made void God's own commandment to honor Father and Mother, and instead said that if a man says to his Father or Mother, Corban - the money I would have given you is dedicated to God - then they are free of the fourth commandment!

A major Jewish scholar of today, Jacob Neusner (Torah, Fortress, Phila., 1985, p. 75) reports that the Mishnah, which was considered a codification of oral traditions, said that part of the law given to Moses was written, part was transmitted orally. There were 613 precepts in the written law, but many more than that in the oral law. Neusner cites the Talmud (Torah, p. 78) saying that the oral part is greater than the written part, and that the things handed on orally are "more precious." Neusner also says (Invitation to the Talmud, Harper & Row, NY, 2d ed. 1989, p. 23) that the Pharisees extended the levitical purity rules even beyond the Temple to their own homes. After 70 AD they extended these rules to all Jews.

In the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 11. 3) we read: "It is a worse thing to go against the words of the scribes than the words of the [written] law."

Their esteem for the law was so extreme that they thought God Himself spends three hours per day in studying the Law (Palestinian Targum on Dt 32:4, and Babylonian, Talmud, Aboda Zara 3. b).

Some of the things the Jewish teachers disputed were pitiful. Studying law meant largely just solving cases. Thus the Babylonian Talmud (Beza 1. 1) tells us that the schools of Shammai and Hillel, at the time of Christ, debated whether it was permissible to eat an egg laid by a hen on a feast day coming after the Sabbath. The hen had been working illegally!. The school of Shammai said it was permissible; Hillel said no. The Talmud (Sabbath 6. 65-66) tells us that Rabbi Meir said a cripple with a wooden leg could walk on the Sabbath - but Rabbi Jose said it was forbidden!

Yigal Yadin, the chief researcher of the Qumran Temple Scroll, reports (Biblical Archaeology Review, Sept-Oct., 1984, p. 45) that since Dt 23:12-14 ordered the latrine to be made outside the camp in the period of desert wandering, some Essenes took this to apply literally to all of Jerusalem, and so made a latrine outside the city at a distance of 3000 cubits - which was too far for anyone to be permitted to walk there on the Sabbath! (A cubit was about 17.5 inches).

We see there was ample reason, admitted by the Jewish sources themselves, for Jesus to rebuke the Pharisees. At the same time, we can admit that they also held some highly moral ideals along with foolish things (cf. J. Bonsirven Palestinian Judaism in the Time of Christ, McGraw-Hill, NY, 1965, tr. W. Wolf, pp. 21-32).

Very many today say that the conflicts of Jesus with the Pharisees did not take place in His time, but that later the Christians came into conflict, and then retrojected these things to His time. But that would be sheer falsification of Scripture. One could retroject an actual saying of Jesus, given after Easter, to the time before Easter - but this proposed retrojection would be of things He never said at all. Further, as we have just seen, the Pharisees did commit dreadful excesses.

Jesus not only did not violate the real law of God, but He even extended and perfected it. Especially, although Leviticus 19:18 had commanded love of neighbor, when the Jews took that to mean only fellow Jews, Jesus in the parable of the good Samaritan made clear it applies to all. He also extended the precepts in Matthew 5:21-48: "You have heard it was said to them of old... but I say to you...

He distinguished clearly what is required for salvation from what is needed for perfection. Thus He said in Mt 19:21: "If you would be perfect, go sell all you have... ." And He proposed celibacy/virginity for those who could take it: Mt 19:12.

He also added ideals in the Sermon on the Mount in Mt 5-7. St. Thomas explained well (II. II. 40. 1 ad 2, citing Augustine De Sermone in monte 1. 19): "These precepts are always to be observed in attitude of mind, namely, that a man should always be prepared not to resist... But at times one must act otherwise, because of the common good [referring chiefly to public authority]... Hence Augustine says:... nothing is more unhappy than the happiness of sinners, in that impunity is nourished and an evil will is strengthened." Jesus Himself when slapped on the face by a guard at His trial did not turn the other cheek, but rebuked them (John 18:23).

Incidentally, only four of the early Christian writers were clearly absolute pacifists: Marcion, Tatian, Tertullian and Lactantius. But each passage involves heresy and so the testimony is voided. Marcion and Tatian were major heretics. Tertullian by the time he wrote a pacifist text had fallen into Montanism.

Jesus and St. Paul on the Law: There seems to be a conflict: Jesus said He came not to destroy but to fulfill; St. Paul said we are free from the law. But if we study carefully, there is no conflict at all, but perfect agreement. (2 Peter 3:15-16 comments that St. Paul is hard to understand. Anyone who has studied Paul says loudly: Amen).

St. Paul was in a running fight with the Judaizers. They said: Christ is not enough, we must have the law too. The natural response for Paul was: We are free from the law. That was rather misleading language. He meant: 1)Jesus is enough; 2)Keeping the law does not earn salvation. For Paul, like Jesus, taught that God is our Father, and so we get our salvation as His children. We inherit: cf. Gal 3:15-18; 4:5-7; Rom 8:16-17; 6:23. (It is true that Greek kleronomein) can mean merely get, need not always mean inherit. But the contexts of the verses referred to show Paul does mean inherit). Even as children, however, we could earn to lose salvation, to be disinherited: Rom 6:23.

(Incidentally, we can see from the above the correct solution to the question of predestination: 1)Our Father wills all to be saved; 2)He looks to see who rejects His grace so gravely and persistently that he cannot be saved - sadly, He decides to let those go, negative reprobation; 3)All others He predestines, not because of merits, which have not appeared yet, but because that is what He wanted to do in the first place, and they are not blocking Him. So, as with inheriting, one does not earn the positive reward, but can earn to lose it, that is, can earn the negative, reprobation).

Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes: Earlier in this chapter we saw with the help of Jewish sources, that the Pharisees really were guilty of the faults with which Jesus charged them. So it is not correct to say the Gospel strictures on them really belong to a period later in the first century. The fact that they had some beliefs in common with Jesus, e.g., the resurrection, does not change this fact. Nor does the fact that some few Pharisees were friendly to Jesus change it. Rather their extreme hatred is shown by their obtaining His condemnation to a death so horrible that a decent person would not treat a dog that way. Later in the first century a curse against Christians was inserted into their liturgy.

Some today try to say that it was not the Jews that brought the condemnation of Jesus, it was the Romans, on a charge of insurrection. To say this means the Gospels are telling a lie. It is painfully clear that Pilate tried to dismiss the charge. The Jews, especially the Pharisees pressed on, and asked to have Barabbas, a real murderer released instead of Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles present the same picture of their attitude.

We grant, as Vatican II said (Declaration on NonChristian Religions #4), that the special guilt for His death does not fall on Jews today, or even on all Jews in the country at that time -it falls only on those who were before Pilate's tribunal screaming for His blood. But we cannot escape charging those who were there with incredible hardness and blindness. And most of the others failed in faith in not accepting Him.

Flavius Josephus in Antiquities I. 3, says the Pharisees lived an austere form of life, and that they believed in the immortality of the soul, rewards and punishments in the life to come. They had great influence among the people of the time of Jesus, especially through the scribes. St. Paul tells us that he had been a Pharisees before his conversion (Phil 3:6; Acts 23:6, 26:5).

The Pharisees may have developed from the Hasidim, a religious reform movement at the time of the Maccabees. They became prominent as an opposition party during the reign of the Hasmonean rulers, John Hyrcanus (134-04 BC) and Alexander Jannaeus) 103-76 BC), and had much influence over Alexandra Salome (76-67 BC). With the reign of Herod their political influence seems to have declined, but their influence with the people was great.

The Sadducees seem to have originated in the 2nd century BC, and to have had much influence up to the first Jewish revolt, 66-70 AD. The name most likely comes from Zadok, high priest at the time of David. The Sadducees did favor the priests and their interpretation of the law. By the time of Jesus they included the families from whom the high priests came, and also other wealthy aristocrats of Jerusalem. Most members of the Sanhedrin, the highest judicial authority of the Jews, were Sadducees. The Sadducees allied themselves with those who had political power. Their influence among the people was much less. The Sadducees accepted only the written law, not the oral law which was so important to the Pharisees as we saw above in this chapter. It used to be thought that they accepted only the Pentateuch and rejected the rest of the Old Testament. This seems not so likely now. Josephus in Antiquities I. 4 says the Sadducees believed souls die with bodies. They tried to trap Jesus with their imaginary case of a woman who had seven husbands: whose wife would she be at the resurrection?

The Essenes are first mentioned at the time of Jonathan Maccabeus, around 150 B.C. They probably stemmed from the Hasidim, like the Pharisees. They emerged as a major theocratic party after the Maccabean revolt. They were prominent in Jerusalem politics through the reign of Aristobulus I, c 104 BC Then they became increasingly opposed to the Zadokite priests. Hence they withdrew into separatist enclaves in Jerusalem and other cities. It is likely, though debated, that the Qumran sectaries were part of this Essene movement.

When an earthquake destroyed Qumran in 31 BC. the sectaries there may have moved to the southwest corner of Jerusalem. After the death of Herod, they went back to Qumran where they stayed until the Romans captured the place in 68 AD.

They considered themselves as the faithful remnant of Israel and the chief part of an eschatological community. Their discipline and lifestyle was severe: meals, study, and property were in common. It seems some Essenes practiced celibacy (cf. Josephus Jewish War II. 8. 13).

They considered the Jerusalem temple decadent, yet at least for a time they seem to have sent offerings there.

The Miracles of Jesus: Rationalists attack the very possibility of miracles. Some, who consider themselves scientific, say the universe is a closed system of laws, so miracles are impossible. R. Bultmann was so foolish as to say that, "Conclusive knowledge is impossible in any science or philosophy (Kerygma & Myth, tr. Reginald Fuller, ed. H. W. Bartsch, Harper & Row Torchbooks, NY, 1961, 2d ed. I. p. 195). Yet he was certain that if one has seen "electric light and wireless" he cannot believe in spirits and miracles. And he adds that if natural science can explain something, we could call it a miracle, but if it cannot, it would be superstition to call it a miracle (ibid., pp. 197, 199)!

Some homilists today, to seem up to date, give foolish explanations of some miracles, e.g., the miracle of the loaves happened when Jesus induced people who had been selfishly hiding loaves under their cloaks to get them out and share them!.

But even the NJBC (pp. 1320-21) says that His exorcisms and cures were never denied in antiquity, even by His enemies - who referred His miracles to magic or the power of satan. But some who accept exorcisms and cures balk at nature miracles, such as calming the storm. But the power needed is the same in both types of miracles.

Were some cases called exorcisms in the Gospels really cases of epilepsy? Perhaps. The mission of Jesus was not to teach scientific points, but to cure the sick for the sake of His mission. He knew, had no need to explain. Whatever was the trouble, He cured it by a word.

Some try to say the miracles of Jesus were just the same as those of pagans or rabbis. But the parallels are far from parallel. Cf. L. J. McGinley, "Hellenic Analogies and the Typical Healing Narrative", in Theological Studies 4, 1942, pp. 385-419. Attempts to find parallels in the life of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus are shockingly inane. Apollonius finds a satyr annoying women, he quiets the satyr with wine (6:27). He writes a threatening letter to a ghost (3:38). He finds dragons 60 feet long (3:7). He sees robot tripods that serve meals (3:27). And more nonsense.

Some also claim the miracles were not intended to prove anything, they were just signs. The NJBC says Jesus is shown as consistently refusing to work miracles to show His power. The five texts cited are all in special situations which prove nothing. Really, He often did work miracles for proof, e.g., Mk 2:1-12; Lk 8:. 41-56; John 5:36; 14:10.

The Church: Even though the word church does not occur often in the Gospels, yet the reality is there. We already saw earlier in this chapter that the phrase "Kingdom of God" commonly means the Church. And in our summary of apologetics in chapter 2 above we saw that He did gather a group, commissioned them to teach in His name, and promised God's protection on their teaching. Once we reach that point, that group, or Church, can assure us of many things.

Did He intend that Church to last more than one generation? The very question is foolish. Would God become man, suffer so much, teach and do so much for just one generation? Many parables make His intention clear. e. g, the parable of the weeds, (Mt 13:24-43) pictures the Kingdom of Heaven as a field in which the master sowed good seed, but an enemy came and sowed weeds.

The servants wanted to pull out the weeds, but the master told them to wait: "The harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the world." So the Church, with both good and bad people in it, will last to the end. The parable of the net (Mt 13:47-50) brings out the same thing. The fishers will sort out the good and bad fish: "So it will be at the end of the world." And He told them very explicitly in Mt 28:18- 20: "All power is given me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations... behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." The Acts of Apostles reveal the Apostles were slow to catch on to this last item. But eventually, with some divine prodding (Acts Chapters 10-11) they did. Their slowness is not surprising - it appeared so much in the Gospels too. It would not do to say Jesus used only interior locutions - no speaking at all - after the resurrection. Really, when there is such a locution, the soul must understand at once. Later, certitude over it may fade (cf. St. Teresa of Avila, Life 24, and Interior Castle 6. 3. 7). This is the reverse of the pattern shown by Peter in Acts 10-11).

Matthew 16: 13-20: Is there a Pope, and what authority does he have? There are two ways to answer:

a)We study the passage in Matthew 16. It is clear enough in itself, even though some Protestants try to say the rock is the faith of Peter. But a distinguished Protestant W. F. Albright, who in his day was often called the Dean of American Scripture scholars", along with C. S. Mann, wrote in the commentary in the Anchor Bible, Matthew (pp. 195-98) that it is mere denominational prejudice to say that the rock means Peter's faith or Peter's Messianic confession. He adds that Peter's authority to bind or loose "will be a carrying out of decisions made in heaven."

b)We really do not have to labor thus on the exegesis of Matthew 16. For in apologetics in chapter 2 we proved that there is a group or church commissioned to teach by the messenger sent from God, Jesus, and promised God's protection on its teaching. All we need to do then is to see if the Church did teach there is a Pope, and what his authority is. That is abundantly clear. Already in about 95 AD, Pope Clement I intervened in a schism in Corinth. Early in the letter he said: "Because of the sudden and repeated calamities and misfortunes, we think our attention has been slow in turning to the things debated among you." If someone without authority spoke that way, the recipients would respond: "Who does he think he is anyway?" The Council of Ephesus in 431 was dealing with an Eastern error, yet St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, went to Pope Celestine for a decision. The Pope's delegates said, without contradiction at the Council (DB 112, cf. DS 3056): "The holy and blessed Apostle Peter... received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ... He [Peter] lives even to this time, and always in his successors gives judgment." There are many more such texts. Very important is the testimony of St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3. 3. 2), who even though he had heard St. Polycarp of Smyrna tell what he had heard from the Apostle St. John, yet calls Rome the principal church with which others must agree.

The Church, then, which speaks with the protection promised by Christ, tells us there is a Pope, and that He can even define doctrines infallibly without consulting the Bishops - though as a matter of fact he does consult) and that he has absolute and immediate authority over everyone in the Church, even the Bishops.

Passover, Eucharist, Sacrifice: There is a question of the date of the Last Supper. On the one hand, the Synoptics suppose it was a Passover meal: Mk 14:12; Lk 22:7 & 15, while John 13:1 seems to say it came before the Passover.

Of course, we must not say there is a contradiction of one Gospel against another. There are several solutions that are plausible.

In that year, when the Passover fell on a Sabbath, at least some of the Passover lambs were sacrificed on Thursday afternoon to prevent possible violation of the Sabbath rest by running into Friday evening because of the large number of lambs. Hence two possible dates for the Supper.

Or: When the Passover fell on a Sabbath, as it was that year, it seems the Pharisees held the Passover meal on Thursday evening, to avoid any danger of violation of the Sabbath rest on Friday evening. But the Sadducees, staying closer to the letter of the law, held the Passover meal on Friday evening. So the Synoptics would follow the one system, John the other.

The Eucharist was a sacrifice. For a sacrifice includes two elements: the outward sign (which is to express and perhaps even promote the interior) and the inner dispositions. The essential inner disposition on His part was obedience to the will of the Father. (The dispositions often mentioned in the catechetical memory word ACTS: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, supplication) are not wrong, but omit this essential). Cf. Romans 5:19 and LG #3. The outward sign at the supper was the seeming separation of body and blood, standing for death. Thereby He said to the Father: I know the command you have given me. I am to die tomorrow. I turn myself over to death (expressed in the seeming separation). I accept. I obey. He made the pledge that evening, carried it out the next day. Then the outward sign became the physical separation of body and blood. In the Mass the outward sign is the same as that of the Last Supper. His interior disposition then and now is the same attitude continued, it is not a repetition. For death makes permanent the attitude towards God with which one leaves this world.

He commanded: "Do this in memory of me" so that we might join our obedience to the will of the Father to His, so that there might be an offering of the whole Christ, Head and members. His Mother moreover was there when He died, and she did join her offering with His, to such an extent that Pius XII, in the document defining the assumption, spoke of "the struggle [Calvary] which was common to the Blessed Virgin and Her Son". Really it all was the making of the New Covenant. In the covenant, the essential condition is obedience. Vatican II says in LG #61: "In suffering with Him as He died on the cross, she cooperated in the work of the Savior, in an altogether singular way, by obedience (the very covenant condition), faith, hope and burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls."

How the Redemption Operates: Jesus said (Mt 20:28 and Mk 10:45) "The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many." Similarly 1 Cor 6:20 and 7:23 speak of the price of redemption. Many other times St. Paul speaks of buying.

Many today despair of understanding these words about the price or ransom. They notice that the captor was satan: we do not want to say the blood of Christ was paid to satan. Nor was it paid to the Father: He was not the captor. But it can be understood readily if we recall what we saw in chapters 5 and 11 above on the concept of sin as a debt, and of the fact that the Holiness of God wants the scales of the objective order rebalanced after they have been put out of balance by sin. The sinner takes from the scale what he has no right to have: Jesus by His life and death put back infinitely more than all sinners took. We stress it is primarily the Holiness of God, in which He loves all that is good that is central here, even though in a way justice is involved.

His death, if we use the contractual language of covenant, generated an infinite objective title to forgiveness and grace for the world as a whole, and even for each individual person (cf. Gal 2:20). Yet someone can be lost if he makes himself incapable to taking in what the Father so generously wants to give.

The concept that sin is a debt is abundant in OT and NT, and in Intertestamental literature, in the Rabbis, and in the Fathers. It shows especially in the Our Father: Forgive us our debts.

The Sequence of Resurrection Events: At first sight, the various accounts seem irreconcilable. But it can be done, and in more than one way. Here is a very plausible sequence: a)Magdalen and other women come to the tomb about dawn, and see it empty; b)In their excitement, she or they run to the Apostles (Mt here, between 20:8 & 9) omits the visit of Peter and John, our item c); c)Peter and John refuse to believe, but do run to the tomb, and find it empty. They are amazed, but do not see Jesus; d)Peter and John leave. Magdalen stays, sees Him, at first takes Him for the gardener. He soon makes Himself known. Magdalen and others make a second visit to the Apostles to say they have seen Him; e)Jesus appears to Peter; f)Jesus appears to two men on the road to Emmaus; g)They go back to the Apostles, and hear Peter had already seen Jesus; h)Jesus appears to the Eleven; h) Thomas was absent before, so Jesus comes again when Thomas is there; j)further appearances at the Lake of Galilee.

A few comments: 1)As often, the Gospels do not keep chronological order, and there is even telescoping by Luke - as he did with the account of the return to Nazareth after the presentation. Now Luke tells that Jesus said stay until the Holy Spirit comes. Then he tells of the Ascension, with no mention of an interval; 2)Matthew at times uses what is called the "plural of category" i.e., speaking of a group when it was really an individual, e.g., 28:1- 10 compared to John 20:11-18. (Only Magdalen in John); 3)Matthew and Mark, in view of their own scope, prefer to stress the Galilean appearances, which were more frequent, and completed the instruction of the Apostles. But both do add some appearances in Jerusalem: Mt 28:9-10 has the appearances to the women, and Mk 16:9-11 has an appearance to Mary Magdalen.

Special Emphases of the Several Evangelists:

Matthew seems to write especially for Jewish Christians. Hence so many OT quotes, showing fulfillment of prophecies in Jesus, to demonstrate that He is the expected Messiah. For this very reason it is very hard to suppose Matthew wrote after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. How could he have refrained from pointing out the fulfillment of that prophecy of Jesus? Matthew gives us more sayings of Jesus than the other Gospels do. However, it seems clear that he has often grouped them, especially in the Sermon on the Mount, which is probably put together out of several discourses of Jesus. Matthew also shows special interest in the Church, and its universal mission. He reports many strictures on the Pharisees and also the Sadducees. As we saw before, it is not permissible to say these things were never said by Jesus, that a later generation invented them, and projected them back into the mouth of Jesus. Rather, we saw that Jewish sources themselves give the same picture of the Pharisees as does Matthew.

Mark shows more of the narrative style than the other Gospels. Central to this Gospel is the question of who Jesus is. As we saw, it is a very respectable position to hold the ancient tradition is true that Mark wrote from the preaching of St. Peter. There is much discussion of the audience intended by Mark - some think it was written to confirm the Roman community in its outlook - or - to correct that community and help it change its mind. There is an enormous range of disagreement among scholars about Mark. The picture is complicated by the fact that many Form Critics admit they cannot be sure what belongs to the tradition that came down to him, and what pertains to Mark's editing. Mark is also noted for his portrayal of the human features in Jesus: Jesus shows apprehension or even fear in the Garden, sadness, sympathy, admiration and indignation.

Mark as a whole is shorter than Matthew and Luke. R. Bultmann thought (in: "The Study of the Synoptic Gospels" in Form Criticism, tr. F. C. Grant, Harper & Row Torchbooks, N. Y. 1962, pp. 32, 34-35) that was a sign Mark was the earliest form of the Gospel. But that claim does not stand up. We have all heard people trying to tell a story - if they are not skilled at storytelling, they are apt to insert needless details, which mar the effect of the story. Bultmann thought Matthew and Luke added details. But this is not generally the case. Mark 9:14-29 is much longer than the parallel in Lk 9:37-42. Again, Mark 6:32-44 is more detailed that Mt 14:13-21 and Lk 8:40- 56. Leslie R. Keylock studied this matter (in: "Bultmann's Law of Increasing Distinctness" in: Current Issues in Biblical and Patristic Interpretation, ed. G. F. Hawthorne, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1975, pp. 196- 210) by examining a large number of parallels. He found Luke is more precise than Mark 47 times, but less precise 37 times. Matthew is more precise than Mark 58 times, but less precise 54 times. So there is no "law" of increasing detail added by fancy.

Luke's preface shows his great care in getting the facts and presenting them. (Please recall our report on a study of the Semitisms in Luke, in our treatment of the genre of the Infancy Gospels. Even though Luke is the only writer of a book of Scripture who is not a Semite, his language shows more Semitisms than do the Semites - an indication of his meticulous concern for accuracy). So he opens by situating events in the framework of the history of the time. The tradition that he was often a traveling companion of St. Paul is quite credible - more on this in our treatment of the Acts of the Apostles.

It has been noted that Luke's style varies - at times he is quite Semitic, at other times, he writes a good quality of literary Greek. This is the result of his meticulous translation of Semitic sources, as we saw in the study just mentioned above.

John's Gospel is clearly of a somewhat different tone than the Synoptics. In John, Jesus often speaks in long discourses, instead of short sayings. The disciples recognize Him at once as the Messiah (1:41-49), while in Mark, the recognition is the climax of the Gospel( Mk 8:31). However, the contradiction is only apparent. In John they do at once suspect Jesus is the Messiah - Messianic expectation was high at that time, as we know from history. But to recognize what sort of Messiah is something else. In Mk 8:29 and Mt. 16:16 there is a somewhat deeper perception, especially since in Mt. Jesus says Peter had a revelation from the Father. Even so, this would not necessarily be a full understanding of His divinity, but only something on the way to that perception.

Today it is the fashion to strain to find "contradictions", which formerly scholars would try to resolve, e.g., NJBC (p. 943) says that John 16:5 contradicts 14:4. Now 16:5 says: "Now I am going to Him who sent me, and no one of you asks me: Where are you going?" In 14:4 Jesus had said: "And where I am going, you know the way." But the Apostles clearly did not understand 14:4, as shown by the next lines in which Thomas says he does not know where He is going nor does he know the way. Jesus often spoke cryptically to provoke thought. So there is no contradiction.

Another inane objection concerns chapter 21, saying it could not be by John. But in commenting on Deuteronomy we met the objection that Moses could not have described his own death. Of course. But someone else could have added it later. Similarly, it is obvious that another hand added chapter 21 of John. Knowing how authorship was handled in those times makes these thing quite possible. Really, only the last few words of chapter 21 would need another author.

It is also noted that Jesus speaks quite openly of His divinity in John: "I and the Father are one" (10:30) and "Before Abraham was, I AM" (8:58). This is true, but if we note that Jesus engaged in gradual self-revelation, these lines could have been spoken close to the end, when the malice of his enemies was complete and hardened.

The Gospel seems to have been written by "the Beloved Disciple". Formerly it was thought clear that that disciple was John. Today the tendency is to deny it was.

Very tempting is the testimony of St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3. 1. 1): "Then John the disciple of the Lord, who reclined on His bosom, also put forth a Gospel while living at Ephesus in Asia." Irenaeus also tells us (Letter to Florinus) that he had listened, when young to St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (not far from Ephesus) telling his recollections of the Apostle John.

However, there is a cloud, for Eusebius (History 3. 39) quotes Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, c. 130 AD who seems to distinguish two Johns, the Apostle and the Presbyter. So it is just possible - not certain - that Irenaeus confused the two. Yet since he heard Polycarp who knew John, this is very unlikely. There are other ancient writers who seem to say the Gospel was by John the Apostle.

We should note too that the beloved disciple reclined on the chest of Jesus at the Last Supper, was present at the cross, went to the tomb with Peter, had Mary the Mother of Jesus entrusted to His care. So it seems he was one of the inner three, Peter, James, and John. Now the beloved disciple is not Peter, is clearly distinct from him. Nor could it be James, who was a martyr in 44 AD, too early to write the Gospel. So it almost certainly should be John the Apostle.

Many today think the Gospel was the product of a Johannine community, and went through more than one revision. This is not impossible. In such a case, however, the data at least for the most part would have come from the Apostle.

The Gospel often speaks of "the Jews" without further identification. We gather that the enemies of Jesus are meant, i.e., Pharisees, Sadducees and others.

Chapter 22: The Acts of the Apostles

It is clear that Acts has the same author as the Gospel of Luke. But when was the work written? Current estimates are apt to run between 80 and 90 A.D. The reasons: It is clear that Acts follows on the Gospel, which so many think, without valid reason, belongs to that decade. Second, it is commonly thought that Luke did not know Paul.

The chief reasons are the following:

1)It is said that Acts 15:1-35 clashes with Gal 2:1-10. In Galatians Paul tells of the meeting with the Apostles, and says he compared notes with them and they "added nothing to me." But in Acts 15:29 the letter of the Council tells gentile converts to "abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity."

Now of the four items from the letter, one repeats the basic commandment against loose sex. Paul of course speaks against loose sex too. The other three items are taken from the old law, and are just a sop, a concession to the feelings of Jews. But Paul in Galatians refers to basic doctrine. The 3 items in Acts 15:29 are not basic doctrine at all, they are, as we said, a sop to the feelings of the Jews. Paul did preach the three points where they applied, as we see from Acts 16:4. Further, the letter of the Council was addressed only to gentiles in Syria and Cilicia - that did not include Galatia. If the Vatican today sends a letter to the bishops of one region, it does not affect bishops of a different region.

2) It is said that Acts does not mention Paul's Epistles. True, but the purpose of Acts was to show how the Church finally reached Rome, the center of the world. Acts does show Paul presenting the most basic doctrines of the Epistles, namely, justification by faith, the divinity and resurrection of Christ, and baptism and repentance. In Acts 15:9 Peter says that God "cleansed their hearts by faith." In 16:30 the jailer at Philippi asks Paul what to do and Paul replies: "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved". [Here as often saved, means entry into the Church]. At Miletus in Acts 20:21 Paul says he has been "testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. In Acts 13:39 at Antioch in Pisidia Paul says, speaking in a synagogue: "Everyone who believes in Him is made just." In Acts 17:3 Paul explains and proves, "that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead" and so to atone for sins.

In Acts Paul also does preach that Jesus is the Son of God: Acts 9:20 shows Paul preaching this right after his conversion. A Greek concordance under the word Kyrios, Lord, shows numerous other times Paul called Him Lord, the title Paul also uses for Jesus in his Epistles.

In both Acts and the Epistles Paul does speaks of the need of baptism: cf. 1 Cor 1:14-17; Romans 6:3-8; Eph 4:5; Col 2:12)

3)It is said that only in Acts does Paul preach the need of repentance. But Paul does preach repentance elsewhere, e.g., Romans 2:4; 2 Cor 7:9-10; 1 Cor 5:3-5. The objection is like the foolish idea that Jesus Himself did not require repentance for forgiveness.

4)In Acts 21:20-26 at the suggestion of James, Paul goes through the Nazarite ceremony in Jerusalem. Some say this was hypocrisy. But it was not, Paul was just following his own principle of 1 Cor 9:20-22 in which he expresses his standing policy of being all things to all men: "To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law, I became as one under the law." There was nothing wrong in the rite itself. It would have been wrong if Paul meant thereby to earn salvation. 5)In 2 Cor 11:23- 29 Paul speaks at length of his sufferings in preaching Christ. In Acts he is pictured going through the sufferings mentioned in 2 Corinthians: persecutions from Jews: 14:2 17:1-10; stoning at Lystra (14:19); scourging at Philippi: 16:22-23.

Neither in Acts nor in the Epistles does Paul think the end is close at hand: we will see the critical passage of 1 Ths 4:15 & 17 later.

So we can believe the testimony of St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3. 1. 1) that "Luke the follower of Paul, set down in a book the Gospel preached by him [Paul]," and of the Anti-Marcionite Prologue to Luke which says: "Luke of Antioch in Syria, a physician, having become a disciple of the Apostles, and later followed Paul until his martyrdom... after the Gospels had been written - by Matthew in Judea, by Mark in Italy - moved by the Holy Spirit, wrote this Gospel in Achaia... with great care, for gentile believers.

Sometimes appeal is made to the "we" passages to show that at those points, chiefly in the 2nd and 3rd missionary journeys and on the trip to Rome, Luke traveled with Paul. This is likely, but not conclusive, for there is a problem of literary genre. Some travel accounts of the times used a similar alternation of first and third person forms.

About the speeches recorded in Acts, since Luke was an educated Greek, we would expect him to follow the policy of the classic Greek historians. We know what that was, thanks to Thucydides, who tells us (1. 22) that he would try to get the actual text if possible, but would not try to keep the same words. If he could get only the content, he would put it in his own words. If he could get none of these, he would write a speech suitable for the occasion. Luke did travel much with Paul, and so could have gotten at least the content of the speeches easily. Further, Paul, like other traveling speakers, would use much repetition, with some variation in wording. He had a typical approach to the Jews, and another for gentiles.

Peter's speech on Pentecost was of such great moment that we would expect it would be easy to get the content of it. The speech of Stephen would also be likely to be remembered. On the other hand, the speech of Gamaliel in the Sanhedrin (5:34-39) might have been harder to get, and this fact could account for some of the historical problems about the false Messiahs.

In all, many have noted that Luke's introductions to both his Gospel and to Acts show the intent to write careful history, in the pattern of the pagan Greek historians.

Why does Acts break off with Paul in house arrest in Rome? Probably, as we said, the intention was to show how the Gospel reached the center of the world, Rome. When that was done, no more was needed. It is also possible Luke intended to write still another volume, and somehow never did so.

Chapter 23: St. Paul's Epistles

We will examine the chief difficulties in each Epistle, taking them up in the probable order of composition.

First Thessalonians: Both Epistles to Thessalonica probably were written from Corinth in 51 AD.

2:14-16: These are terrible lines. St. Paul says that the Jews who are persecuting him so often and so severely are "filling up the measure of their sins." Compare 2 Maccabees 6:13-16 for the theme: Some, God lets have their fill of sin, then comes final ruin; others, He punishes them on the way, to bring them to their senses, so they may not have to be in final ruin.

4:13-17: Some of the Ths were fearful: It would be sad if I died before Christ returns, then others would see Him before I. Paul tells them Christ will come down, the dead will rise first, then the risen dead and those who remained alive (who never will die) will be taken together in the air to meet Christ.

Because Paul twice says "we the living", it is charged he thought he would see the end. It does not follow. Good teachers often say I or we to make things concrete and vivid. In 2 Ths 2 Paul makes clear that he does not expect to be around at the end. So the dissenters deny he wrote 2 Ths - even though the ancient witnesses for both are equally strong.

Some also take this passage to mean a rapture: suddenly Christ will take all the good people out of the world, leaving only the wicked. The good will reign with Him on earth for 1000 years. Dissenters argue that this passage says the living will be taken in the air to meet Christ - in the Gospel account of the Last Judgment, all are on the earth. - They overlook genre. Both passages have strong apocalyptic color. With apocalyptic, one should not press details.

5:23-25: Paul assures them God will keep them without blame until the end - that is, if they do not reject that special grace. But it is clear: God will offer the grace of final perseverance, contrary to old theologians who thought He might not give it even if the person was not guilty of mortal sin.

Second Thessalonians: Here, as we said, Paul makes clear in chapter 2 he does not think he will live to the end. He says first must come the Antichrist, and the great apostasy - on it cf. Luke 18:8, Mt 24:12 and 2 Tim 3. 1-7.

Galatians: If Paul wrote to the north Galatians, he wrote from Ephesus in 54. If to the south Galatians, it would be 48 AD.

He wrote first, to answer charges he was not sent out by Christ, was only a second stringer. He insists he did have the mission from Christ, received on the road to Damascus.

The second reason: to combat the Judaizers, who said Christ was not enough, we must keep the Mosaic law too.

Paul would call that a different Gospel, in chapter 1. He says vehemently: even if an angel came down and preached a different Gospel, let the angel be cursed.

Paul reacted against the claim of the Judaizers in language that is potentially quite misleading (cf. 2 Peter 3:15-16 on Paul's obscure language) by saying: We are free from the law. If we study carefully other passages, especially 1 Cor 6:9-10, we see we will be lost if we break the law. So Paul really meant this: To keep the law does not earn salvation; but one could earn to lose it by grave sin.

2:15: a)Justification by faith: This is a central theme for Paul, especially in Galatians and Romans. By justification he means getting right with God, but that is no mere extrinsic, forensic thing as Luther thought, so that even after justification one is totally corrupt. No, Paul often speaks of the Christian as "a new creation" (Gal 6:15;2 Cor 5:17). Creation, making out of nothing, is different from the same old corruption. He also says the Holy Spirit dwells in the souls of the just as in a temple (1 Cor 3:16- 17;6:19). He will not dwell in total corruption. That would not be a temple.

Further, we must understand faith as Paul means it. It is not, as Luther thought, just confidence that the merits of Christ apply to me, or taking Christ as your personal Savior, so that after that one can sin freely and it will not hurt him. If we read all places where Paul speaks of faith, keep notes, add them up, the result is this: 1)If God speaks a truth, in faith we believe it in our minds; 2)If God makes a promise, in faith we are certain He will keep it; 3)If God tells us to do something, we do it, we obey. Paul thus speaks (Rom 1:5) of the "obedience of faith", the obedience that faith is; 4)all is to be done in love. (A standard Protestant reference work, Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplement, p. 333, gives the same picture of faith as we have just done). This is vastly different from Luther's mistake. He thought after getting faith, one can sin freely. He told his lieutenant Melanchton (Epistle 501): "Even if you sin greatly, believe still more greatly." No, faith includes obedience. So it does not exempt from obedience. In Gal 5:19-21 (cf. 1 Cor 6:9-10; Eph 5:5) Paul gives a list of the most important great sins, and adds that those who do these will not inherit the kingdom of God. When we inherit from parents, we have not earned it, but we could have earned to lose it, to be disinherited.

b)Paul on the Law: Paul makes two kinds of statements about the law. (1) Focused view: At times he says no one keeps it, even can keep it (Rom 3:19- 20). Gal 3:10-11 says that those who depend on works of the law are under a curse. For the law curses (Dt. 27:26) those who do not keep it. Yet the law gives no strength, it only gives knowledge of what is right or wrong (Rom 3:20). Gal 3:22 says all are locked up under sin. Romans 7:9-10 says: "I [any person] was alive [spiritually] once without the law [before the law came]. But when the command came, I died." In Romans 8:7-8 we read that the flesh is intent on death: "The flesh is not subject to God, neither can it be. Those in the flesh cannot please God."

(2)To have the law was a great privilege of the People of God: Paul says this in Romans 3:3; 9:4. And in Romans 7:14-16 he says the law is holy and good.

Solution by focused vs factual views: It is clear that Paul has two different ways of looking at the law. In the focused view, as he says in Romans 3:20, "through the law comes knowledge of sin" - but that is all that comes. The law as such gives no strength. Now, evidently, to be under a heavy demand, with no strength, means a fall is inevitable. Then the law curses the one who falls. (We name this perspective "focused" since the view is limited, as if looking through a tube, one sees only what is within the circle formed by the tube).

In the factual view, that limit is removed, one sees the whole horizon, and sees that even before Christ came, divine help, grace, was available (in anticipation of the merits of Christ). If a person uses it, he will not fall, not be dead and cursed. So the law then is a privilege, for it points out the things that are harmful to us. Augustine said well (Confessions 1. 12): "Every disordered soul is its own punishment." In focused view Paul says we cannot keep the law, yet in a factual view he says in Phil 3:6 that he, before knowing Christ, kept the law without blame.

If only we keep in mind these two ways Paul uses, we can solve many difficult problems in Paul which commentators in general fail to solve. As we go through his Epistles, we will point out these passages.

2:11-14: Paul corrects Peter for being weak-kneed at Antioch, for going back on the decree he himself had helped make in the Council of Jerusalem. There is no hint Peter broke with Paul over this. Then the first Pope would have reversed his own doctrinal decision. Paul's rebuke bore on weak conduct, which would give scandal, not on doctrine. (This was not the first time Peter was weak).

2:20: "He loved ME and gave Himself for ME." Beautiful: The death of Christ was offered for each individual, so that the Father pledges an inexhaustible treasury of grace and forgiveness in favor of each one (cf. Vatican II, Church in Modern World # 22). One could be lost by resisting grace, and if he becomes blind through repeated sin, he will be incapable of receiving the grace the Father offers.

3:28: Paul says it makes no difference if one is slave or free, male or female. But he is speaking of gaining justification by faith. We cannot say: Therefore it makes no difference in all other things - such as women's ordination. Paul is talking about only the one thing, considering context.

5:16-25: Paul had told them: You are free from the law. They were exultant: They could sin as much as they wanted! Paul of course has to correct it, but he does not want to take back his words, so he shows that if one follows the Spirit, He will not break the law as a matter of fact. He gives two check lists, to see if one is following the Spirit or the flesh.

Philippians: We do not know the date and place of composition of Philippians. Best prospects are: from Rome (61-63), or Ephesus (c. 56), or Caesarea (c. 58).

1:6. Paul promises that God who has begun a good work in them will bring it to completion, assuming they do not reject His grace. This means God surely offers the grace of final perseverance.

1:21-24: Paul knows he may be killed. He cannot decide if he would rather die and be with Christ, or live to work for Christ - marvelously selfless attitude! It is clear that Paul knows he could be with Christ even in the interval between death and resurrection. Really, Paul says he was a Pharisee, and they definitely did hold for the survival of souls. Some today deny Paul saw this, appealing to an alleged Hebrew unitary concept of man: he is only a body with breath. Then there could be no survival. We saw the answer to this error in Chapters 16 & 17 on the Psalms and Wisdom literature.

2:6-11: This is a beautiful hymn, it may or may not have been composed (or revised) by Paul himself. He urges them to imitate the ways of Christ who did not hold on to the privileges He could have claimed from being divine, instead, He took the form of a slave, became obedient even to death. For this the Father exalted Him above all. "Form of God. . form of slave" could mean either divine nature... human nature, or the external glory of each - which would imply the reality of the natures. Jesus in v. 7 made it a policy not to use His divine power for Himself - so His humanity was unprotected against the anxiety of knowing what lay ahead of Him.

2:12-13: This is a text of great importance. Paul tells us to "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling [really: with great respect] for it is God who works [produces] in you both the will and the doing." This translation follows the definition of the Council of Orange (DS 374 - by special approbation of Pope

Boniface II, its canons are equal to those of a General Council). In 2 Cor 3:5 Paul says (again translating according to the definition of DS 377): "We are not sufficient to think anything of ourselves as from ourselves: our sufficiency is from God." These mean the same as 1 Cor 4:7. We cannot get a good thought, make a good decision, or carry it out without God. We might seem to be puppets then, but in 2 Cor 6:1: "We urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain." So in some way we do control the outcome. The Church has not told us how. But in 1607 Pope Paul V followed the advice of St. Francis De Sales, refused to approve either the so-called Thomist, or the Molinist explanations of how these texts fit together (DS 1997). Here is a newer proposal (W. Most, New Answers to Old Questions, St. Paul Publications, London, 1971): God sends an actual grace to me. With no help from me it causes my mind to see something as good (2 Cor 3:5), and makes me favorably disposed (almost automatic). At that juncture when I could reject, if I merely make no decision against it, do nothing, grace moves into phase two, and works in me both the will and the doing (Phil 2:13) while I cooperate by power being currently received from grace.

This shows us our utter dependence on God, so that when I do something good, my contribution at the basic level, at the point which decides the outcome, is a zero, the lack of a bad decision. Also: in doing good or evil, I use the ontological power God supplies. So I should work, "with fear and trembling", or, very respectfully (cf. Wm. Most, Our Father's Plan, Manassas, VA, 1988, chapter 18).

3:8: Paul says he has gladly taken the loss of all things, and considers them as dung or rubbish, to gain Christ. - He does not mean, on the absolute scale, that creatures are not good - God made them good, Christ used created things, took on a created nature - but, on the relative scale, comparing things now to those of eternity, present things are of no import. So there is a benefit in giving things up for Christ - contrary to the false notion of the GUN (Give -up-nothing) Spirituality which says there is no benefit in that - leading to loss of vocations, and many failed marriages (cf. again Our Father's Plan, chapter 20).

First Corinthians: Corinth was the most licentious city in Greece. And Paul had more trouble with the Corinthians, to judge by his letters, than with any other place. Population was about a half million in his day. He wrote the first Epistle probably in 57. We gather from 5:9 that there was another letter to Corinth before our First Corinthians. And from 2 Cor 2:3-4, 7-9 we gather he wrote still another letter between our First and Second letters.

Chapters 1-4: Messengers form Chloe tell Paul of factionalism in Corinth: they are proud of the group to which they belong. Paul spends four chapters to work against such pride. In contrast, he preaches (1:22),"Christ crucified, a scandal to the Jews, and foolishness to the gentiles." Plato had said (Symposium 203) that no god associates with men. Aristotle had said (Ethics 8:7) that friendship between a god and a man was impossible. What would they say if told that God became man - and that He willed to die a horrid and shameful death for man? This did seem to be foolishness. And it was scandal to the Jews for in Deuteronomy 21:23 they read, "cursed be anyone who hangs on the wood." So Paul said in Gal 3:13 that Christ "became a curse for us." In 1:26-29 he points out they have no church members of worldly repute: why be proud? He seems to imply they got into the Church because they were more in need of help, weaker. In 4:4 he says he has no sin on his conscience that he knows of, but he may have done something wrong without realizing it. That would not be a mortal sin, yet Scripture calls for reparation for such things: cf. Leviticus, chapter 4; Gen 12:17; Lk 12:47-48, and many more passages.

6:9-11: Paul lists the chief mortal sins, and says those who do such things "will not inherit the kingdom of God." Please recall comments on Gal 2:15: as to salvation, you cannot earn it, you inherit it, but you could earn to forfeit it, to be disinherited. 6:11 says only some of the Corinthians - even in a licentious city - were guilty of such great sins. This makes a question about Romans, chapter 1, where it seems all are guilty of all sins. Our approach by seeing two ways Paul looks at the law - focused and factual, which we saw at Galatians 2:15 - will solve the problem when we get to Romans.

6:15: Points out that to become one flesh with a harlot is to make a member of Christ a member of a harlot.

Chapter 7: Paul here says that in virginity/celibacy objectively there is a help to spiritual growth which is not found in marriage. We add: subjectively, that is, considering the individuals, God does not intend all to be virginal or celibate. So for those for whom He does not plan it, it would not be a help, but a danger. Hence they are not lacking in generosity to God if they follow the path He has designed for them. Paul VI (To 13th National Congress of Italian Feminine Center, Feb. 12, 1966) said: "Marriage is a long path toward sanctification." This is true, if one uses it according to our Father's plan. Love is not a feeling, but a will for the well-being of another for the other's sake. Feelings tend to lead into this, if one stays within God's plan - otherwise, true love hardly can develop, for premarital sex is not being concerned about the well-being of another, it is using another, putting the other into a state of danger of eternal suffering instead of well-being. In such a context, love can hardly develop - but it will feel like it, the feelings will be the same. But if one works according to our Father's plan, unselfish, generous love will develop, which will pass on to the children, leading to very generous sacrifices for their well- being. And the need to get along with a partner whose psychology is so very different - male and female psychology are very different - calls for development of unselfishness. If done with the intention of following the Father's plan, this is highly sanctifying.

The reason why virginity/celibacy offers an advantage for those for whom God plans it, is that it helps one become free of a most powerful pull of creatures: cf. Mt 6:21: "Where your treasure is, there is your heart also." One can put his treasure in anything and can be held in varying degrees by the object. The less such pulls, the more free is the heart to rise to the divine level. Of course, for the real effect, it is not enough to get detached only from sex: general detachment is needed.

8:1 - 11:1: Paul says that an idol is nothing, so food offered to idols is not changed. However, he argues eloquently and at length against scandal, leading another, who cannot understand the meat is not changed, into sin by forcing him (social pressure) into doing what he cannot help thinking is wrong. As part of this plea, in 9:24-27, he points out that he - even with his heroic work for Christ - feels the need of mortification to tame the flesh: otherwise, he might become a reject, even after such work for Christ. It is evident: Paul does not believe that just once "taking Christ as one's personal Savior" makes him infallibly saved, no matter what sins he would commit. Paul here, in context, is talking about losing heaven itself, not just about losing some additional thing. In the next chapter, chapter 10, he gives many examples from OT to show that the original People of God did not have assurance of salvation from being God's people.

14:34: He says women must be silent in church. Is this basically social custom, or a doctrinal statement? Most likely it is doctrinal. At any rate, Paul VI and John Paul II gave many statements against women's ordination. Most significant is the letter of Paul VI to Archbishop Coggan, Nov 30, 1975: "She [the Catholic Church] holds it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church... and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God's plan for his Church."

Chapter 15: Many Greeks, especially Platonists, did not like the idea of a bodily resurrection for all. They hoped, rather, to escape reincarnation in time. Paul insists that if we deny the resurrection of members of Christ, it implies denial of His resurrection, for Head and members must both rise. He says the risen body will be "spiritual". This does not mean it will not be flesh - the Greeks would not mind if it were only spiritual - but that it is controlled by the spirit, the soul, and so operates according to the principles of spirits. Jesus after resurrection, 1)proved He had flesh, He let them touch Him, ate with them; 2) came through closed doors without bothering to open them.

Second Corinthians: It is hard to reconstruct the picture. It seems Paul's first letter was not well received, and relations got worse. He probably made a hasty visit to Corinth (2 Cor 12:14; 13:1-2; 2:1) which also accomplished little if anything. When he got back to Ephesus, he wrote a third letter, which we do not have. Finally, he sent Titus to try to smooth things out. While Titus was absent, there was the riot of the silversmiths at Ephesus told in Acts 19:23 - 20:1. Paul left for safety, for Macedonia. There, perhaps at Philippi, he met Titus, found a reconciliation had been made. From Macedonia he wrote Second Corinthians, probably in the fall of 57.

This is a very human document, Paul does much pleading to the Corinthians. So there are few difficulties that need explanation.

3:5: The correct translation, following the definition of the Second Council of Orange (529 AD. By special approbation of Pope Boniface II, its canons are equivalent to those of a General Council: DS 377) is this: "Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as from ourselves; our sufficiency is from God." (Other versions speak of taking credit instead of thinking. Greek logizomai has both senses. But we follow the council). It means that by our own power we cannot even get a good thought. On this please see the comments above on Phil 2:13.

3:6: "The letter kills, but the spirit gives life." This is often misunderstood. In context, it means that the old law brings only death (please recall the focused way of speaking, explained at Gal 2:15), while the new regime of the Spirit brings life. In the same vein, in 3:7 Paul speaks of the old law as "the ministry of death," and in v. 9, "the ministry of condemnation".

5:1-10: Paul speaks in a very human way here: He would like to have the glorified body put on on top of his present body, without dying. He knows that is not possible, so he gets up his confidence or nerve and says he would like to be away from the body and be with Christ: 5:6-8. Some commentators here want to say Paul thinks he could have a resurrection body in this life without dying. Paul has no such thought. In 1 Cor 15:51-52 it is clear the change comes after death. And 2 Tim 2:17-18 complains against some who thought the resurrection had already taken place. - Please see again our comments on Phil. chapter 1.

5:21: "The one who did not know sin, He made Him to be sin for our sakes." Similarly in Gal. 3:13 Paul said Christ became a curse-- for Deuteronomy said that anyone who hangs on the wood is cursed. He seemed to be cursed, so as to overcome that curse that we might escape eternal death. (Note that Hebrew sometime uses a noun for an adjective- it had few adjectives. So curse means cursed).

Chapters 10 - 11: Paul here begins to speak somewhat clearly about opponents in Corinth. We are not sure precisely what sort they were, except that they called themselves Superhebrews and Superapostles, and said they had great credentials, Paul had none. Paul in 11:13-14 says these men "transform themselves into angels of light. That is, they take on the appearance of good to deceive people. Satan himself does that, in all centuries, including our own, where he distorts the true concept of love for his purpose, at times wiping out direct relation to God: "We can have that only through people."

Paul hates to "boast", to rehearse his own credentials, but when the good of souls demands, he will do it. After several delays he says he is a Hebrew of the Hebrews. But more important, he has suffered so much for Christ: he enumerates his hardships. And remarkably, he says in 11:27 that even with these, even though his travels sometimes made him short on food, he added fastings.

Chapter 12: Continuing his reluctant "boasting", he finally admits that he is the one who was taken to the third heaven. But then, to keep him from pride, he was given "a sting of the flesh, an angel of satan to buffet him." He prayed earnestly to get rid of it. God told him: "Power is made perfect in weakness."

What was the sting? Some think persecutions - but Paul considered them a privilege, not something to pray against. Others say sickness - Paul likely would say: May His will be done. Others think violent sex temptations. Many Saints especially in the Dark Night of the Spirit have experienced these, without falling at all. Yet after a siege, a good person may feel uneasy: "Did I really hold out?" So this is a great help to humility, this experience of weakness, in which power is made perfect.

Romans: It seems Paul had written Second Corinthians from Macedonia, in the fall of 57. He went to Corinth, perhaps directly, perhaps by way of Illyricum. He came to Corinth, his third visit, in the winter of 57, and stayed three months in Achaia. During this period, probably at Corinth, he wrote Romans.

We do not know when Christianity first came to Rome. Some Jews from Rome were at the first Pentecost, and became converts. We do not know if they went back to Rome - some Jews may have stayed to live out their last years in the Holy Land.

All admit Paul wrote Romans, but there is a problem over 16:1-12, which seems to be an unrelated letter of recommendation for Phoebe, who has worked for the church at Cenchrae. Most admit it is by Paul, but it is not clear if it was part of Romans. Also there is a problem about the doxology in 16:25-27. Is it part of the original letter? The Council of Trent declared all these part of inspired Scripture, regardless of the question of authorship and place.

1:1 - 2:17: The great thrust of the first three chapters is to show first that Gentiles are all hopeless if they try for justification by keeping the law, then to show, starting at 2:17, that the Jews are also hopeless. Finally in chapter 3 he sums up: all are hopeless, and so all must turn to faith for justification. It is very important to keep this picture in mind. Many commentators today overlook this. In dealing with chapter 1 where Paul makes so great an accusation against the gentiles, many say that this applied only to some of them, or expressed just tendencies. But to say that ruins Paul's great argument. Then some could achieve justification by law, not by faith.

Before looking at that problem in detail, we see Paul opens by saying atheists are inexcusable. That is true of real atheists. But we know St. Justin Martyr (First Apology 46) said that some in the past, such as Socrates, who were considered atheists, were really Christians, because they followed the divine Logos, the Word. Justin also said (Second Apology 10:8) that the Logos is in everyone. What does He do there? In Romans 2:14- 16 we will see that He writes the law on the hearts of every one, i.e., tells them what is morally required. So if Socrates obeys that, as he did, he is accepting the Spirit of Christ, not knowing that is what he is accepting. Now we learn from Romans 8.9 that if one has and follows the Spirit of Christ, he belongs to Christ. So Socrates belonged to Christ. Hence he was Christian, not by formally joining the Church, but substantially. We add this: to belong to Christ means to be a member of Christ, which is also a member of the Church. Vatican II wrote in LG #49: "All who belong to Christ, having His Spirit, coalesce into one Church."

In 1:17-18 we meet the words "the justice, or righteousness of God." Many commentators think this means God's action to save His people. But this view neglects the normal usage of Hebrew sedaqah as revealed by a concordance, and by a study of the same concept in intertestamental literature, in the New Testament, in the Rabbis, in the Fathers. Rather: God in His Holiness loves everything that is good (please recall our comments on sin as a debt in chapters 5 and 11). So He will act accordingly, will reward those who keep His covenant, punish those who do not (this is simply the Deuteronomic theme we saw widely in the Old Testament). So in this light we will be able to understand the words of Romans 2:6-13 where Paul says that "God will repay each one according to his works." If we look at the fundamental sense, no creature by its own power can generate a claim on God - all is mercy. But in the secondary sense, given the fact that God freely made a covenant, then if people obey, He owes it to Himself to reward or repay; but He also pledged to punish disobedience. Actually, in 2:6 Paul is quoting Psalm 62:12 which in the Hebrew says: "You O Lord, observe the covenant bond (hesed) - for you will repay each one according to his works."

But so many did not observe the covenant, they took the opposite path, and went lower and lower, as if on a spiral, became more and more corrupted and blind. At the end of chapter 1 Paul says that they, "having known (exact translation of aorist participle epignontes) that these things deserve death, not only do them, but approve of doing them." It is bad enough to sin - but to call sin good is the lowest degradation.

It is widely admitted that the picture in Chapter 1 is too strong. And Paul himself knew it, as we said before, in 1 Cor 6:11 he said: "Certain ones of you were these", great sinners. The solution is simple: in Romans 1 he uses a focused picture; in 1 Cor 6:11, a factual picture. Paul can move from one perspective to another as his argument requires. In 2:14-16 he turns to a factual picture, then in 2:17 goes back to a focused picture.

Now we must add something even more striking. At the start of chapter 2 (we recall the chapter and verse numbers were not by Paul, were added long after), Paul says that anyone who condemns another, "for this reason... he is guilty of the very same sins."

Commentators do miserably at this point. They do not know what to do with the opening word of chapter 1, dio, "for which reason". They try to say it is a Greek particle with hardly any meaning. - There are such words, but dio is not one of them. It is a preposition dia with the relative pronoun: "For which reason." It ties the thought to what was said in chapter 1 of the vices of the gentiles. And soon it adds that all who condemn another are not just sinners in general - commentators try to get off by saying that - but are guilty of the very same sins. We can solve this if we use our focusing technique strenuously: The law in general makes heavy demands - gives no strength - so one must fall. But we must add: Each large precept in the law is a heavy demand - it gives no strength - so each one is guilty of each thing, that is, of "the very same sins."

2:17-24: Here Paul makes great charges against the Jews. Commentators know they are not realistic. So they try to soften by adding question marks (Paul's manuscripts used no punctuation at all). But if we see that it is a focused picture, there is no problem at all. At the end, in verse 25, we read "circumcision does help". If Paul had quote marks, he would have used them here to quote a Jewish claim against Paul. Paul at once adds: If you break the law, you might as well not be circumcised.

Chapter 3: Paul, after accusing Jew and Gentile, concludes: "The whole world is found guilty before God, for, on the basis of works of the law, all flesh will not be justified before Him. For through the law, [comes only] knowledge of sin." But no strength was given, so, as we said, all go down. This is a focused picture. Vv. 24-26 are beautiful if read correctly, so as to understand what we saw at 1:17, that "justice of God" means His love or concern for all that is right, that is, for rectifying or rebalancing the objective moral order put out of line by sin. (We recall the words of Pope Paul VI, and of Simeon ben Eleazar in chapters 5 and 11, on this rebalance of the objective order). Without filling in this concept, then Christ would be merely the new propitiatory, with no more visible reason than to be smeared with blood like the old propitiatory. Then: Why such suffering for a mere ceremony?

6:23: Paul says the wages - what one earns - of sin is death, but the free gift - what one does not earn - of God is eternal life. This is the same as our saying about justification or salvation: You can't earn it, but you can blow it.

7:7-13: Paul keeps saying I. It means not himself alone, but any human. In 7:9-10 he implies two periods: 1) from Adam to Moses, when there was no revealed law, "I was alive at one time" having no revealed law to break; 2) from Moses to Christ, when there is a law. About the first period, as we noted, he says was he was spiritually alive. For there can be no violation of a revealed command when there is no revealed command. He is focusing on that kind of sin, leaving out of the picture the sin which can be committed by violating what the Spirit writes on hearts (2:14-16). In the second period, we have basically our familiar focused picture: the law makes heavy demands, gives no strength, so one must fall.

7:14-25: Paul repeats the ideas of 7-13, but in a psychological presentation. Within a focused picture, he can see what is right, but has no strength. So he is wretched. But Jesus, in chapter 8, will rescue him.

If we did not understand the focusing here, we would seem to see the total corruption Luther imagined: we can see what is good, but cannot do it.

8:1-17: Here, in another focused picture, the regime of the Spirit, as such, can bring nothing but good. However, now Paul breaks his focus a few times, chiefly in verses 9 and 17. Terrible misunderstanding would follow otherwise, that of Luther, who thought if one takes Christ as his personal Savior, he can sin as much as he wants. We answered this earlier, especially by noting that Pauline faith includes obedience (cf. Rom 1:5) and so, faith which includes obedience cannot justify disobedience.

8:29-39: Paul speaks here of predestination. But we must watch the context, it is not a predestination to heaven (or hell) but a predestination to (full) membership in the Church - e.g., he speaks of the "call". Predestination is an arrangement made by Divine Providence to see that someone gets either that membership, or gets to heaven. We mentioned full membership, because there is a lesser, but substantial membership possible, as we saw above in comments on 2:14-16.

Scripture never speaks explicitly of a predestination to heaven. Earlier centuries thought it did, hence many terrible fears, and much confusion. Pope Clement VIII in 1597 summoned representatives of the "Thomist" and the Molinist schools to Rome to debate predestination and human interaction with grace. It ran for ten years, until Paul V in 1607 decided to approve neither side - a sign of Divine Providence protecting the Church. Both sides misused Scripture, taking things out of context, not seeing Paul spoke not of predestination to heaven, but of predestination to (full) membership in the Church. Hence, no good result.

Paul here and in chapters 9-11 says God predestines to this full membership without regard to merits.

If we may fill in on what Paul does not say, a new solution to the problem of predestination to heaven is this (cf. Wm. Most, New Answers to Old Questions, London, 1971): There are three logical steps in God's decisions: 1)He wills all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4--the founder of the "Thomist" school, Domingo Banez, said God did not will all to be saved); 2)God looks to see who rejects His grace gravely and persistently - so that he throws away the one thing that could save him. With regrets God decrees to let those go, to hell; 3)All others not discarded in step 2 are predestined to heaven - but not because of merits, which have not yet come on the scene, nor even because of the lack of resistance, but because in step 1, He wanted to do so, and they are not blocking Him. (The same conclusion can be reached by the Father analogy: 1)Parents want all to turn out well; 2) the children do not have to earn love and care (parallel to predestination without merits); 3)but children could earn to be disinherited, rejected, let go to ruin.

11:25-27: Paul foretells the conversion of the Jews. He says they will be "saved". This means entering the Church. He cannot mean reaching heaven, for he knows that can happen even without formal entry into the Church, as we saw at 2:14-16. Paul does not say when this will be, but we get the impression it will be shortly before the end. Since Scripture also foretells the return of Elijah the prophet (Sirach 48:10; Malachi 3:23-24), we may wonder if he is to be the agent of their conversion. We note too the similarity in wording: in 11:25, a blindness has come in part on Israel "until the fullness of the gentiles enters"; in Luke 21:24: "Jerusalem will be trodden by the gentiles, until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled."

13:4: Writing in the time of Nero, Paul calls for obedience to the civil authority, unless of course it orders what is immoral. He said: "It [the civil authority] is a minister of God for good to you. But if you do evil, be afraid. For not without reason does it bear the sword. For it is the minister of God and avenger for [God's] wrath on the one who does evil." Therefore, to say capital punishment is wrong is to contradict St. Paul. One could, however, ask whether it is expedient or beneficial. (Nero was not at his worst in this period. But Titus 3:1 also calls for obedience, and was written probably in 65, when Nero was a wild tyrant).

14:1 - 15:3: Paul is urging avoiding scandal to some - we do not know their exact trouble - who are weak in understanding that no foods are wrong by nature. The thought is quite similar to what we saw in his treatment of scandal in 1 Cor 8 - 10 in connection with eating food sacrificed to idols.

16:1: Paul speaks of Phoebe who is a deaconess (diakonon) of the church of Cenchrae. The Council of Nicea, in Canon 19, explained about such women: "We have spoken of the deaconesses, who have been enrolled in this position, even though they have not been in any way ordained. They are surely to be counted among the laity."

Philemon: Paul sends Onesimus, a runaway slave whom he converted, back to his master, Philemon, asking him to take him back as a brother. Here we should recall the comments made on slaves at 1 Cor 7:21.

Colossians: Until the commentary of Meyerhoff in 1838, no one doubted Colossians was by Paul. Now it is very fashionable to say he did not write it.

There are two kinds of arguments: 1)External witnesses who says it is by Paul - an impressive list: Tertullian, the Muratorian Canon, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, plus heterodox authors Marcion and Valentinus. Colossians is at least probably mentioned in the works of St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp, St. Justin Martyr, and the Epistle to Diognetus. No ancient author contradicts or doubts.

The arguments against Paul's authorship are internal: 1)Vocabulary and style are somewhat different from other Epistles - but we reply that here he has a new kind of opponent, which calls for new words. Anyone who knows that the pagan historian Tacitus wrote both his four historical works (very pungent and distinctive style), and the Dialogue on Orators, so different in style, will not be impressed. 2)Theological considerations: a)Paul speaks little here of justification by faith, salvation, law. - But he has little occasion here. His purpose is different. b)Christology: he does not speak of Christ as the Son who died, was buried, who is at the right hand of the Father. - Again, Paul has a different purpose. He does say that we have been raised with Christ, and sit in heavenly places with Him: 3:1-4. c)Eschatology: Paul does not here expect the end soon. - Nor does he elsewhere, as we showed in detail in commenting on 1 Thes 4:13 ff. d)Ecclesiology is more advanced. - Any live person should develop over a period of time. Paul now speaks explicitly of Christ as our Head - it was implied before in saying we are His members. Other developments are to meet the new opponents.

Who are the opponents? Two chief possibilities: 1)Gnostics. At least a start of Gnosticism was around then. Gnostics spoke of many intermediate aeons between God and the world, used terms such as pleroma (fullness), principalities and powers. 2)Jewish Apocalyptic speculators. They too used similar language. Hence we are not certain. It is clear Paul often uses the language of his opponents to meet them. And by 2:15 it is clear that the spirit powers these opponents say we must worship along with Christ are really, in Paul's mind, evil spirits. (Paul surely does not speak of nine choirs of angels).

Date and place of composition are uncertain. It could be Ephesus or Caesarea. Rome, 61-63, seems somewhat more likely. The advanced doctrine on the Church means it should be relatively later in Paul's life.

1:15-20: may be a hymn. It surely speaks of Christ as the head, the firstborn etc. over all principalities and powers. So we need not worship them: in Christ all fullness (pleroma) of divinity dwells in bodily form.

1:24: Paul is pleased to fill up what is lacking of the sufferings of Christ in himself, for His body, which is the Church. Christ the Head lacked no suffering - but the whole Christ, including His members, may lack. Paul knows that since we all are part of the one Mystical Body, one can make up for another. He does that, heroically. Please recall our comments in chapters 5 and 11 on sin as a debt.

1:26: He begins to speak, not too clearly, of a mystery hidden from the ages. In Ephesians 3:6 it will come out more clearly. It is this: God calls the gentiles to be part of the People of God along with the Jews who accept Christ.

2:15: Christ despoiled the principalities and powers. So they are evil spirits, not angels.

2:16-23: Paul attacks the rules given by opponents who think they must have certain ascetic practices. Paul does not object to mortification in itself (cf. 1 Cor 9:26; 2 Cor 11), only to their reasons for demanding it. It seems they worship angels or spirit powers.

3:18 - 4:1 This is a picture of the ideal household. The husband has authority in matters pertaining to the household. Cf. Pius XI (DS 3709): "This order includes both the primacy of the husband in relation to the wife and children, and the ready and willing obedience that St. Paul commands [Eph 5:22-23]. This obedience does not deny or take away the freedom which fully belongs to the woman, both in view of her dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble position as wife and mother and companion. Nor does it direct her to obey her husband's every request if it is not in harmony with right reason, or with the dignity due to a wife, nor finally, does it imply the wife should be on a level with those who are legally minors." It is merely that a committee of two can be deadlocked much of the time.

Ephesians: Again, as with Colossians, many think Paul did not write Ephesians. The arguments used against his authorship are much the same as for Colossians, and the answers are the same. Here are a few differences: in 2:11-22 Paul speaks of both Jew and Gentile being made one in Christ. They say this differs from Acts 28:24-28 where Paul speaks dimly of the fact the Jews will not accept Christ. - But the objectors miss something obvious: In Acts, Paul speaks of the Jews who still rejected Christ; in Ephesians he speaks of Jews who have accepted Christ. Further, the objectors say Paul took a dim view of marriage in 1 Cor 7; while here he is more optimistic. But in 1 Cor 7 Paul spoke of marriage and virginity/celibacy as both being graces. He was contrasting the different spiritual possibilities in 1 Cor. Here he is giving an ideal picture of the family, much like that of Colossians.

We said that the ancient witnesses who say Ephesians is by Paul are just as strong as they were for other Epistles of his, chiefly: St. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, the Muratorian Fragment, plus heretical authors: Marcion, Basilides, and Valentinus.

We conclude that the external evidence easily outweighs the very weak internal evidence against Pauline authorship.

The opponents here seem to be the same as in Colossians, because of several mentions of principalities and powers: 1:21; 3:10.

There is a different problem here. The opening line is usually rendered: "Paul, an Apostle... to the holy ones who are at Ephesus... ." But several major manuscripts omit the words "at Ephesus. Further, in 1:15 and 3:1 Paul speaks as if he had not been to Ephesus. Yet we know he spent several years there.

The probable explanation is this: Ephesians was really sort of circular letter, and a blank was left, for the reader to fill in the name of the church where it was being read. The fact that circular letters are not known to have existed in that day proves nothing: Paul could still have gotten the idea.

Ephesians was probably written after Colossians. Paul is in prison - he was in several prisons. The traditional view is Rome, 61-63, but Caesarea is also possible.

Chapter 1: Here Paul speaks of predestination, but just as in Romans, it is a predestination to (full) membership in the Church.

2:8-9: Paul says that even faith, the condition for justification, is a gift of God. This does not imply a blind predestination: God offers faith to all; those who do not reject it get it. The process we explained in connection with Romans 2:14-16 is the explanation of how this works.

4:7: Here Paul speaks of grace given "according to the measure of the giving of Christ." We need to notice from the context, vv. 8- 13, that Paul speaks here of charismatic graces, not of the graces essential for salvation. These latter He offers most abundantly, without measure, since the price of redemption earned an infinite objective title for each person (cf. Gal 2:20). But charismatic graces are given without regard to merit (cf. Mt 7:21-23) according to what the Spirit wills to give (1 Cor 12:11).

5:21- 6:1: Here we have the Haustafel, the ideal picture of the family, much like that in Colossians, except here Paul adds that the union of husband and wife is like that of Christ and the Church. In v. 33 the wife should "fear" her husband. It means respect rather than fear.

The Pastoral Epistles: Denials of the Pauline authorship of these three Epistles are even more insistent than they were for Colossians and Ephesians. But the reasons given for denial are not really stronger.

The ancient witnesses to his authorship are very similar to those for many other NT works. The Muratorian Canon, from the second half of the 2nd century lists them as Scripture, seems to mean they are by Paul. St. Irenaeus, Tertullian, St. Hippolytus, and Origen cite lines from these and explicitly attribute them to Paul. Eusebius, the first Church historian, says the 14 Epistles, including the Pastorals and Hebrews, are clearly by Paul (3. 3. 5). Still earlier, they seem to have been used by St. Clement (in 2. 7, citing an expression used in Titus 3:1; 2 Tim 2:21 & 3:17), and St. Polycarp (4.1 citing from 1 Tim 6:7).

The objections against Paul's authorship are not very strong, all are merely internal evidence:

1)Style and vocabulary. - We have already seen that such evidence is never conclusive, surely not here.

2) The errors described seem to be Gnostic - but at least the beginnings of Gnosticism were around in the first century. 3)The organization of the Church seems more advanced - not surprising, these are later than other Pauline letters. In fact, in Philippians 1:1 we find mention of Bishops and deacons. And in the letters of St. Ignatius (died between 107 & 110), we see a well developed hierarchy.

4)There is stress on keeping the deposit of faith - not strange, for these letters are to two major Pastors, Timothy, in charge of Ephesus, and Titus in charge of Crete. We find Paul stressing tradition elsewhere: 1 Cor 11:2 & 23; 15:1 & 3; Gal 1:8-9; Phil 4:9; Col 2:6-7; 1 Ths 2:13; 4:1; 2 Ths 3:6.

5)Paul's travels after 63 AD hard to fit in. - Really, we have little definite about his movements after release in Rome in 63, since Acts breaks off then. Here is a possible reconstruction: soon after release, Paul did go to Spain, then came back to Rome. In July 64 came the fire, with persecution following. Paul soon left Rome, hiding from imperial police. Early in 65 he was in Ephesus with Timothy (1 Tm 1:3). After some time, he set out for Macedonia, where he wrote First Timothy. From there he may have gone to Corinth, then with Titus to preach in Crete. After a good start, he left Titus on Crete, went elsewhere, we known not where. Decided to spend winter in Nicopolis (prob. of 65-66 - several cities of that name, probably the one in Epirus), wrote to Titus to join him there. Must have worked hard in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12) and nearby. Later sent Titus to Dalmatia (2 Tim 4:10). - Next we find he has been arrested, is prisoner at Rome. Probably left in hurry when arrested, for he left cloak and parchments at Troas (2 Tim 4:13). From there to capital of the province. Had few defenders. Probably in prison in Rome in c 67 and wrote 2 Timothy there. Then a second hearing, and death sentence, flogged, beheaded probably outside the city. Second century tradition says it was at Aquas Salvias, about 3 miles from Rome on road to Ardea. Buried at once nearer Rome, along Ostian way.

There is no doubt at all these Epistles are part of inspired Scripture.

If one denies Paul as author, the dates suggested would be quite late. If Paul did write them, they must be before his death, of course.

First Timothy:

1:18: This seems to refer to Timothy's ordination: cf. 4:14.

2:15: One of the errors Paul opposes here is opposed to marriage. Here he says marriage is good, and the function of the mother is a very means of salvation. In general, to take the role God has intended for each one and to do it for that reason is very sanctifying.

4:1-5: Here are the errors against which Paul writes. In 1 Cor 7, Col 3:18ff and Eph 5:21 ff Paul presented Marriage as good; in Col 2:16 ff he spoke against errors in regard to food, as also in Romans 12. So these ideas in 1 Timothy are not strange, they are Pauline.

5:11ff: Paul does not contradict his advice in 1 Cor 7:40 where he advised it is better not to marry again. That is true unless the widows are misbehaving as those pictured here.


1:12: The prophet quoted here is probably Epimenides, 6th century B.C. Polybius, in second century B.C. in 6. 46-47 gives a similarly bad portrait of them.

3:1: Paul reminds themselves to obey the government - of course, not in immoral things. This was probably written in 65 AD when Nero was at about his worst.

3:9-11: Paul believes that if a man in error cannot be corrected in a few attempts, it is no use. He is right.

Second Timothy:

1:6: Again, urges him to renew the grace of ordination.

1:13-14: An exhortation to hold to the true doctrine. Paul always would urge that, but now, speaking to a Pastor in charge of the Ephesus region, he has reason to repeat, especially since he knows he himself is about to die. And in Acts 20:29-30, at Miletus, he predicted after his death savage wolves would come among them, and false doctrine.

2:2: Paul makes provision for oral transmission. Jesus never told the Apostles: Write some books, get copies made, pass them out, tell the people to figure them out for themselves. There are over 7000 Protestant sects today, each thinking they can figure it out for themselves. As we saw with the help of Form and Redaction Criticism, in chapter 6 above, the Church has something more basic that Scripture: its own ongoing teaching.

2:11: A most basic Pauline theme: we are saved and made holy if and to the extent that we are not only members of Christ, but like Him in phase one (hard life suffering and death) so we may be like Him in phase two, glory.

2:18: Some already then were into the error of thinking the resurrection had already taken place. Cf. some modern commentators on 2 Cor 5.

3:1-7: "The last days" can mean all the time from the ascension to the parousia, and also more specially, the time shortly before the end. The picture here is the very opposite of that given by Teilhard de Chardin on that period. Cf. also Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12.

4:3-4: More on the picture of the time before the end: false doctrine will reign. There can be as it were dress rehearsals for this even before the final time.

4:7-8: Paul speaks of having merited a crown. This fits with his theme of not having to earn justification. The acceptance and possession of first grace is a merit of heaven in the sense that it makes us children of God, who as such, have a claim - a merit - to inherit the kingdom. We get that not as individuals, but inasmuch as we are members of Christ and like Him, we come to share in His claim. Cf. DS 1532, 1548, 1582. From another perspective, within the covenant, good things are given basically without merit, from the unmeritable generosity of God; in a secondary sense, in that He made a covenant, if we fulfill the covenant condition, obedience, we have a claim. Cf. comments on Romans 2:6.

Epistle to the Hebrews: In the first centuries there were doubts and hesitations: 1) Was it by St. Paul? 2) Was it inspired? The Church has made the definitive decision that it is inspired.

About the question of Pauline authorship, the churches of Alexandria, Jerusalem and Cappadocia considered it Pauline. But there were doubts in the Latin church. The Muratorian Canon, St. Irenaeus, St. Hippolytus and Gaius of Rome did not consider it Pauline. Eusebius says it is clearly by Paul. A bit later, Ambrosiaster did not include Hebrews among the Pauline Epistles on which he wrote commentaries, though he did consider it canonical. Sts. Jerome and Augustine seem to have swayed opinion in the west to considering it by Paul. Augustine said he was moved by the prestige of the Eastern Churches. After the 6th Synod of Carthage (419) it became traditional in the west to consider it Pauline.

Many today would favor the opinion of Origen, who notes that the Greek is more idiomatic than Paul's, and the style and composition differ from that of Paul, though the teaching is his. Paul could have given his ideas to someone else, asking the other to write it up. Popes in our time often act that way, then sign a document as their own. Who did write it? The names of Jude, Luke, Silvanus (Silas), Barnabas and Apollo have been proposed. If really originally intended for Hebrew Christians, it must have been written before the fall of Jerusalem, especially because the author speaks of Temple rituals as though still in effect. Since 13:24 says those in Italy greet you, it may have been written in Rome.

There are constant explanations of the superiority of Christ and His Church to the organization of the Hebrew religion, and comparing His priesthood and that of Aaron, and comparing His sacrifice and the Old Testament sacrifices: Now that we have such a high priest as Christ, mediator of a better covenant, it would be foolish to go back to the shadows of the Old Testament.

It is generally admitted that the genre is, except for the introduction, homiletic. As a result one may find some things handled more freely than otherwise.

4:15: Says Jesus was "tried [pepeirasmenos] in all things like us, yet without sin." Even without noting that the genre is homiletic, one should know enough not to press this to extremes: we must not say He experienced disorderly passions - the Second Council of Constantinople, in 553, condemned "wicked Theodore of Mopsuestia" for "insanely" saying this: DS 424. Nor are we allowed to say Jesus was ignorant in His human mind: cf. especially DS 3812, 3905, 3924, and AAS 58 (1966) 659-60.

5:8: "He learned obedience from the things He suffered." This cannot mean He was formerly deficient in obedience, for the same Epistle in 10:7 says that on entering into the world He said: "Behold, I come to do your will." But if we think of someone who has always been devoted to the will of God, but yet had never experienced any notable illness - but now he does fall into severe illness, it will take a bit of adjusting for him to as it were settle down in, and acquiesce on his bodily side in this suffering. To use a term from modern psychology, his somatic resonance needs to grow. Cf. Wm. G. Most, "On Jesus Learning Obedience: Hebrews 5:8" in Faith & Reason, III. 2 (1977), pp. 6- 16.

9:28: "Christ was offered up once." This does not of course rule out what He Himself called for when He said at the Last Supper: "Do this in memory of me." The Cross earned an infinite title to all forgiveness and grace for the whole human race, and for each individual person (Gal 2:20). But God in His love of good order (cf. Summa I. 19. 5. c) wills to have a title for giving out this treasury: it is the Mass, which repeats the sacrifice of the Cross. In a sacrifice, as we know, there are two elements, the external sign, and the interior dispositions. At the Last Supper, and in each Mass, that outward sign is the seeming separation of His body and blood. On the cross the outward sign was the actual separation. In all, the interior is the obedience of His Heart which is not repeated now, but rather, continued, for death makes permanent the attitude of soul with which one leaves the world.

We were not there when He pledged His obedience to the Father at the Last Supper, or when He carried out that obedience the next day. But St. Paul teaches that we are saved and made holy to the extent that we are members of Christ and like Him. We must suffer with Him, die with Him, be buried with Him, rise with Him, ascend with Him, both sacramentally and also in our way of life. Hence He commanded: "Do this in memory of me.". Thus He ordered the sacrifice of the Last Supper to be continued and repeated so we could join our obedience to His, to form the obedience of the whole Christ, Head and Members.

10:26: If we sin after receiving the truth, there is no further sacrifice for us. - The sense is that one who has once come to the truth of faith, and then falls away, is very unlikely to ever repent and return, for such a one is apt to be hardened. Today things might be a bit different, since although in itself there is no valid reason for leaving the Church, so that in the past one would sin mortally either against faith or other virtues leading to blindness. But today with the immense confusion in the Church, there may be cases in which someone slips off the edge without having been hardened.

Chapter 24: The Catholic Epistles

The Epistles we have seen were addressed to special churches or groups. There are others, most of them addressed to the whole Church, hence the general name "Catholic". These are: James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, and Jude.

James: It is not clear who is this James. James the Apostle, son of Zebedee, was martyred in 62. If by him, this Epistle would be very early. Another James the Apostle, son of Alphaeus was not prominent, and so may not be the author. There was a James, who seems to have been an administrator in Jerusalem, whom Paul calls (Gal 1:19) "brother of the Lord." Since Hebrew ah was used so broadly of any sort of relative, there is no shred of evidence for saying he was a son of the Mother of Jesus, or even for saying he was a son of Joseph before his marriage to Mary.

The opening line is addressed to "the twelve tribes in the dispersion." This might mean Jews away from Jerusalem - but there would not be 12 tribes any more since the Babylonian captivity. for only 2 tribes returned. So it may be addressed to all Christians. Writers of the first centuries wavered about accepting this Epistle as part of inspired Scripture. Not cited as Scripture until Origen in the third century. Luther in his first edition of his German Bible (not in later editions) called it an Epistle of straw, since it seems to contradict his ideas.

The ideas are very simple on the whole. We mention a few special texts:

2:10: If a persons violates one commandment, he is guilty of all. This is true on the assumption that the person is logical: he has then denied the authority of the lawgiver, and in that sense has broken all commandments. In a somewhat similar way we might ask if someone who accepts all but a few of the teachings of the Church has any faith at all: for, his reason might be not that the Church so teaches - it might be just inveterate stubbornness. However, people are not nearly always logical.

2:14-26: Faith without works is dead. We must notice that James uses the word faith in a much narrower sense than Paul does. Paul means a faith that believes what God says, has confidence in His promises, obeys His commands, does all in love. For James it is merely intellectual belief.

3:2 If someone does not sin by the tongue, he is perfect. The reason is that sins of the tongue are so common, so hard to avoid, that if one succeeds in avoiding these, probably he avoids all others.

5:14-15: The Council of Trent defined (DS 1716) that here the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is "promulgated" in James.

5:20: If someone saves another's soul from spiritual death, he will save his soul. Does it mean the other's soul, or is it an assurance he will save his own? Either interpretation is possible.

First Peter: Many think it was not really by Peter. The chief reasons advanced against his authorship are these: Its similarity at times in content and even language to some things in Paul's letters. - But this hardly proves anything. Peter may well have been familiar with them, and he surely knew Paul personally. Further, it seems from 5:12 that Silvanus drafted this letter for Peter: "I am writing this through Silvanus". This is likely to have been the Silvanus who was St. Paul's companion at times: cf. 2 Cor 1:19; 1 Ths 1:1. Just as modern Popes do, Peter could have given his thoughts to Silvanus, and asked him to write them up. The second reason is the good quality of the Greek: could a Galilean fisherman have written such Greek? - Again, Silvanus could account for that.

Early tradition, beginning with Irenaeus, without hesitation said it was by Peter. Oddly, the Muratorian Canon omits this Epistle. However, it mentions as Scripture an "apocalypse of Peter". Some scholars think a line had fallen out of the Muratorian Canon, so that really this Epistle was meant.

The chief themes in the Epistle are the dignity of the Christian vocation, and the value of sharing in Christ's suffering. This of course accords with the great Pauline theme: We are saved and made holy if and to the extent that we are members of Christ, and like Him.

1:17: "You sojourn in a strange land". This is like the line of Hebrews 13:14: "We have not here a lasting city." We are headed elsewhere.

2:5-9: We are a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices, a chosen race. - Pius XII in Mediator Dei, the basic liturgy Encyclical, explains well that at Mass the people (AAS 39. 555- 56),"offer through the hands of the priest from the fact that the priest at the altar in offering a sacrifice in the name of all His members, does so in the person of Christ, the Head [of the Mystical Body]. In that sense the ordained priests acts for them. Secondly they offer in that they join their interior dispositions of obedience, praise, petition, expiation and thanks along with those of the ordained priest, even of the High Priest Himself.

Vatican II, LG # 34, explains "spiritual sacrifices", saying:

"All their works, prayers, and apostolic endeavors, their married and family life, their daily work, their relaxation of mind and body, if they are carried out in the Spirit, even the hardships of life, if they are patiently borne, become spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ which are offered devotedly to the Father in the celebration of the Eucharist, along with the offering of the Lord's Body."

2:10: Once they were without mercy. Mercy here, as in Romans 9, has the special sense of a particular favor in the external order, i.e., here, of full membership in the People of God.

3:3-4: Here Peter seems to have in mind the wives of pagan husbands: he asks them to win them not by cosmetics, but by interior character and virtue.

3:15: Here Peter wants them to be able to give a rational account of why they believe: they should not just jump up onto Cloud 9 and believe with no basis. What is needed is apologetics.

3:19-20: Jesus went to preach to the spirits. The thought is not fully clear. We do know that the souls of the just who died before Christ, were not given the vision of God until after His death. He must have gone to announce to them that now they could come.

4:18: The verse cites Proverbs 11:31, as in the Septuagint. It means that since we must even give an account for every idle word (Mt 12:36) we must work. Yet, His yoke is easy and His burden light (Mt 11:30).

5:13: Greetings from Mark "my son". This agrees with the tradition we saw in commenting on the Gospels that Mark wrote from the preaching of Peter.

Second Peter: There is greater doubt about authorship here than about any other NT book. We do not have here the strong testimony of ancient witnesses we have for other books. The first explicit testimony comes from Origen, who admits its authorship, but says there are others who do not. St. Athanasius cites it without question, as does Didymus. Eusebius lists it among the disputed works, and he himself does not think it by Peter. St. Jerome accepted it, but admitted not all did.

The internal arguments are more difficult to deal with here. Some say it depends on an apocryphal work, The Apocalypse of Peter (probably written 110-140 AD); but others say it depends on the Epistle of Jude. Really, the similarities are not so close as to strictly prove dependence at all (e.g., compare 2 Pet 2:1-5 with Jude 4-7). In speaking of the return of Christ, it says that the ancestors have been laid to rest, and still it does not come. This implies a later generation of Christians, after the death of Peter.

1:4: Christians are sharers in the divine nature, by grace, which gives them the radical capability - to bear fruit only in the next life -- of taking part in the vision of God, a thing beyond the powers of any conceivable creature. Only one partly divine could do that.

3:12-13: Some translations here are too strong, speaking of the present skies as going to be "destroyed." It really means only loosed. The fire is taken from apocalyptic language. We need to compare these words with St. Paul, Romans 8:19-22 where we learn that creation will be renewed and delivered from its present "slavery to corruption." The "fire" will bring this about.

3:15-16: The writer says Paul's Epistles contain many things hard to understand. Anyone who has studied them carefully will say a loud Amen. Yet, in spite of the claims of some commentators, it is possible to make sense of everything in St. Paul, as we have seen in our comments above, especially on Romans. This remark of the author need not mean he had a full collection of all of St. Paul - Romans and Galatians alone would be enough to justify the comment.

First Epistle of John: The author is probably John the son of Zebedee. There are explicit testimonies to his authorship from Tertullian, St. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Dionysius of Alexandria, and probably also the Muratorian Canon (not fully clear). There are numerous allusions earlier: Shepherd of Hermas, St. Polycarp, St. Justin and the Epistle to Diognetus.

Some today deny John's authorship, chiefly on the ground of style, which is never conclusive, and not enough to outweigh the many explicit external testimonies. In this respect, we observe there is a striking similarity and parallel between the opening lines of 1 John and those of John's Gospel.

2:18: This verse speaks of both Antichrist, and Antichrists. Mt. 4:5: "Many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ." There is a well-known Hebrew pattern in which an individual stands for and embodies a collectivity. So there is to be a great, chief Antichrist, shortly before the end, but before that, many smaller figures.

3:2: "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." Only a soul partly divine (cf. 2 Peter 1:4) can see God directly. Cf. Mt 11:27 (Lk 10:22): "No one knows the Father but the Son and no one knows the Son but the Father."

3:9: "Every one who is begotten of God does not sin, for His seed is in him, and he cannot sin because he is begotten of God." This is much like the pattern of focusing we saw in St. Paul (in commenting on Gal 2:15): The state of being a son of God, as such, cannot bring forth anything but good, cannot bring forth sin.

3:19: "In this we have known love, that He laid down His life for us." As we gather from John's Gospel 3:16, to love is to will good to another for the other's sake. Jesus so greatly willed our good, eternal life, that He died to make that possible for us. Thus He proved His love: cf. Rom 5:8, and our comments on the redemption in chapters 21 & 23 above.

3:19-22: Just as He proved His loves by His action of dying for us, so we prove our love for God by our actions. If we do that, we need not have worries about our love of God. Although love in general consists in willing good to another for the other's sake, yet we cannot will good to God, who can lack nothing. So the word love needs to be used in a somewhat different sense (analogical) when we love God: Scripture pictures Him as pleased when we obey, displeased when we do not. It is not that He gains anything from our obedience, yet His Holiness wants it: 1) He loves everything that is objectively good; that means creatures should obey their Creator, children their Father; 2)He wants to give His benefits to us and steer us away from things harmful to us: we become open to Him, and avoid harmful things by keeping His commandments. So in practice, love of God = obedience to God, as 5:32 says: "This is love of God, [namely] that we keep His commandments."

4:8: "God is love." Being utterly One, there are no real distinctions in God. So we should not say that He has love - that would be a duality, He and His love. We say He is love. Similarly, He is goodness, mercy, justice, etc.

Within the Most Holy Trinity, the Father loves in willing the infinite Good of the divine nature to His Son who is constituted by that Love. Father and Son will the infinite good of divine nature to the Holy Spirit, who is constituted thereby and is therefore the love of the Father and the Son. And the Spirit wills that good to Father and Son, and so all is love: God is love (cf. Rom 5:5).

5:16: Here John says we should not pray for one whose sin is to death. This does not mean just any mortal sin - the precise terms we now enjoy took long to develop. St. Augustine thought this was the sin of apostasy (De Sermone Domini 1. 22. 73). The Roman Synod, under Pope Gelasius I, on May 13, 495 (DS 349) said the sin to death is seen in the case of those who remain in the same sin. It is not to death if they give up the sin."

Second and Third Epistles of John: In favor of Johannine authorship we find: St. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, St. Dionysius of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Epiphanius, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Tertullian and probably the Muratorian Canon (unclear). However, we meet with silence on authorship in St. Cyprian, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and St. John Chrysostom. Origen says some doubt, but he does not share the doubts. St. Jerome seems to accept them himself, but reports others doubt. Eusebius lists them among the debated Epistles.

Style seems to indicate the same author for both (an inconclusive point). The fact that the writer calls himself "the Elder" is a bit puzzling. Why not Apostle? We think of the fact that Papias distinguishes two Johns, the Apostle, and the Elder.

2 Jn 1: We are not sure who the "elect Lady" is. It may be Christians in general: that name is applied to Christians in 1 Pet 1:1 and Tit 1:1.

2 Jn 6: "This is love, [namely] that we walk according to His commandments." This is the same thought we commented on above in 1 John 3:19-22.

2 Jn 10: Urges avoidance of false teachers, the same thought we saw in Titus 3:10.

3 Jn 9-10: Diotrephes the leader of the church to which the author writes rejects the author. If this is the Apostle John, we have a strong case of rebellion very early.

The Epistle of Jude: There were various persons in the early Church named Jude. But the writer says he is the brother of James. Since he gives no other information, it seems this is a well known James, and that should be James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, the "brother" of the Lord. Ancient tradition for the most part believed he was the Apostle Jude.

Ancient witnesses to authorship by Jude include: Muratorian Canon, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen and others.

The chief message is a warning against false teachers.

7 and 14-15: Verse 7 seems to use The First Book of Enoch 9. 8; 10. 11; 12. 4. Verses 14-15 clearly cite First Enoch 1. 9. St. Jerome (De viris illustribus 4) says this citation caused some to reject the book. However, for Jude to cite an apocryphal work need not mean he believed it himself. Similarly, St. Paul seems to use a rabbinic legend in 1 Cor 10:4. A person today could use a line from Alice in Wonderland, without believing the story was real.

Apocalypse/Revelation: Greek apocalypsis means revelation.

Early tradition was unanimous in saying this work was by John the Apostle the author of the Gospel and the three Epistles. However, in the third century some began to think it was John the Presbyter, in line with the remark of Papias about two Johns, an Apostle and a Presbyter.

The genre is at once apocalyptic and prophetic.

Interpretations proposed are almost countless. We could summarize the chief tendencies thus:

Historicist position: This finds references to later developments in Church history, e.g., the command to use the open scroll to prophesy in 10:8-11 was used by some Protestants to refer to Luther's break, using Scripture alone.

Futurist position: This takes the seven letters to the seven churches as standing for seven ages of Church history to follow. But these writers usually take everything from 4:1 on to refer to the last few years of the history of the world, recalling the prophecy in Mt 24:21 of the great tribulation. Some fanciful theories often result, with no solid support at all: mere guesses. In line with this some would take the first plague, 16:1-2 to foretell the epidemic of AIDS. Reasonable people do debate whether or not it is a divinely sent punishment. But it would be something else to say it was foretold in 16:1-2.

First century position: This is a common view today, and it sees the book as a response to first century conditions, to give consolation in the face of persecution, by predicting the final victory of the divine over the human power.

Achronological position: The events of chapters 4-20 are not events in chronological sequence but overlapping pictures of human pride and the sufferings of the Church such as it is found in any period of history In view of such diversities, it is hard to speak with confidence on individual things in the book. But we will make a few attempts:

Chapter 12: Here is the vision of the woman clothed with the sun. We are fortunate to have several Magisterium texts on this. St. Pius X (Ad diem illum. ASS 36. 458-59): "No one of us does not know that that woman signifies the Virgin Mary... yet laboring from some hidden birth... ours, we who... are still to be brought forth to the perfect love of God and eternal happiness." Pius XII (Munificentissimus Deus, AAS 42. 762-63) says the Fathers and Scholastic doctors "have considered the assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as signified... in that woman clothed with the sun." Paul VI (Signum magnum, May 13, 1967) said "the sacred liturgy, not without foundation," saw this as referring to the most Blessed Mary." John Paul II (Redemptoris Mater, # 24) says she was "the woman spoken of by the book of Genesis (3;15) at the beginning and by the Apocalypse (12:1) at the end of the history of salvation."

We gather, the image refers to the Blessed Virgin and to the Church. This is a well known Hebrew pattern, in which an individual stands for and embodies a group. B. J. Le Frois, in a dissertation presented to the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome in 1954 suggested that if this is a prophecy of the end time, it could mean that then the Church will take on a specially Marian character, in a sort of Age of Mary. St. Louis De Montfort (True Devotion ## 51-59) foretold such an age.

Chapter 13: This chapter gives a picture of two beasts coming out of the sea and the earth. It is possible that they stand for two aspects of the Antichrist, and say that in the last age when the Antichrist appears, he will gain power over the earth, and prevent anyone from buying or selling without credentials from him. Interestingly, the New Age Movement according to Constance Cumbey, Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, (Huntington House, Shreveport, 2d ed. 1983) seems to plan to carry out precisely this scenario. As to the number 666, it is surely symbolic. Greek and Hebrew reuse the letters of the alphabet for numbers. In that way, the number could stand for Nero. According to some, the title of Christ who slays the Beast has the value of 777 - so, if we take something away from the perfect number at all points, it will stand for all evil.

Chapter 20: If read superficially, it seems to foretell two resurrections. First the just would rise, and reign with Christ on earth for 1000 years. Then the others would rise. Taken crudely this would be millenarianism (from Latin mille, 1000, or Chiliasm, from Greek chilioi, 1000). A fair number of the early writers held some form of this view: 1)Gross and extreme form: Life would be coarse unrestrained sensual pleasure. Eusebius (3.28) says Cerinthus, late 1st century, held this, and some others; 2)Moderate Form: Material and sensual but not extreme or immoral pleasures. Eusebius (3.39) says Papias held this; 3)Mild Form: A period of spiritual joys. Held by Tertullian (Against Marcion 3 24), St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies 5.32), St. Justin (Dialogue 80-81), and a few others. St. Augustine once held it, gave it up (Sermo 259.2). There were many opponents. The Church never accepted the view. St. Augustine (City of God 20.7) said the first resurrection was that from sin, the reign on earth meant people were not slaves of their vices, the second resurrection would be physical, for all. The 1000 years stands for all the time from the ascension to the parousia.

21:1-5: God will wipe away all tears from every eye, and will say: Behold, I make all things new"!