1. DOI /vx. Pontifical Encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu () and Principle of Interpretation Bible. PhDr. ThDr. Daniel Slivka, PhD. DIVINO AFFLANTE SPIRITU Encyclical of Pope pius xii concerning the advancement of biblical studies. The document is dated Sept. 30, , feast of St. WHEN the Encyclical Letter Divino Afflante Spiritu appeared thirty years ago, it was the conclusion that in this field Pope P ius XII’s Encyclical was really.
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The Holy Church considers this heaven-sent treasure the most valuable source of doctrine on faith and morals. This is why in recent times, and at other times when the divine origin and correctness of its interpretation are questioned, the Church undertakes its defense and protection with great zeal and care.
Pope Pius sets forth to expound the content of Providentissimus Deus and to defend them. He first of all posits, as contained in the in the above mentioned encyclical letter, that there is no error if the sacred writer, speaking of the things of the physical order, went by what sensibly appeared.
He continues by saying that the sacred writer is not also to be taxed with error if copyists have made a mistake or the real meaning of a passage remains divinoo and finally, that it is absolutely wrong and forbidden to narrow inspiration to certain passages of the Holy scripture or to encylcical that the sacred writer has erred as it is impossible that God, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. The Holy Encyckical makes a clarion call here, as he proclaims the above teaching of his predecessor, urging all to adhere to it religiously.
Concerning what should obtain in the present day, he makes an addition by inculcating obedience to the above counsels and exhortations. Following the founding, by Pope Leo XIII, of a counsel of eminent men whose duty was to ensure that the sacred texts received thorough exposition and were kept safe, other Predecessors of Pope Pius XII made contributions to this regard.
Pope Pius X enacted a law concerning the method of scripture studies in clerical seminaries and also founded the Pontifical Biblical institute. Pope Pius XI decreed that no one should receive a benefice having attached the canonical obligation of expounding the Sacred Scripture unless he had obtained the licentiate or doctorate in biblical science.
Pope Pius X commended the society of St. Jerome and exhorted them to continue their good works of promoting and facilitating the custom of reading and meditating on the Holy Gospel. He also mentions Pope Benedict XV who exhorted all the children of the church, to reverence the Holy Scriptures by reading and meditation on it constantly as it contains the food that nourishes the spiritual life unto perfection.
Apart from the help rendered by the above mentioned successors towards the good use of the bible, there are the many students of the Holy Scriptures who impart in the younger clergy the doctrine they have acquired. Many of them have edited the sacred text; others have expounded, explained and translated it to the vernacular.
Pope Pius X here includes the conditions for biblical studies as investigation by means of excavation and the use of papyri.
The former helps in the knowledge of languages, letter, events, customs, and forms of worship of the ancient times while the latter has contributed to the discovery of letters and institutions of the time of our saviour. He also mentions the spirit that is required for the task of interpreting the bible which include first, the recommendation by the fathers of the church that scholars should study the ancient languages and should have recourse to the original texts.
He posits that the explanation of the sacred books can be done with the use of language and literary criticism.
Concerning what is the case at the present era, he says that textual criticism is used because it purifies the sacred text from all kinds of mistakes.
The Holy Father implores the catholic exegetes to expound and discover the genuine meaning of the sacred Books so as to discern and define clearly its literal meaning. In this encyclical letter, the exegetes are instructed to disclose and expound the significance of the Gospel message carefully without proposing other figurative senses as the genuine meaning of the Sacred Scripture.
They should make use of the works of the Holy fathers, doctors of the church and renowned interpreters of past ages for the accomplishment of this task.
This will bring a union between the ancient authors and the maturer knowledge of the modern interpreters with new divuno in the field of Divine letters. Concerning the meaning of exegesis and aids to exegesis in our age, mention is made of Catholic theologians saying that they have been able to examine and explain the nature and effects of biblical inspiration more exactly and fully than in the previous years. The interpreters are therefore urged to endeavour to determine the peculiar characteristics and circumstance, the mentality, manner of reasoning and expression, as well as manner of narrating and writing of spititu ancient sacred writers.
This is in line with the rule of interpretation which is to discover and define what the writer intends to express. This is why he advises afflanfe the faithful should not lose courage when problems surface today, that they should be courageous knowing full well that new beginnings grow little by little and fruits are gathered after many labours.
Divino Afflante Spiritu |
Based on this also, the faithful are admonished to make free and holy use of the sacred books in order that it instructs them to salvation by the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
The bishops, at this juncture, are advised to support by means of finance, associations that spread copies of the Gospel, to recommend the use of translated version of the Sacred Books in homes and to give public conferences on biblical subjects or have capable hands do it on their behalf.
The bishops are also encouraged to see to it that while still adflante the Seminary, the priests do not lack what is needed to help them imbibe a practical and enduring love for the Sacred Scriptures. The professors of Sacred Scriptures in the seminaries should on their part teach the course perfectly and imbue the students with love for the same.
In the end, the Holy Father urges the faithful to be nourished with the knowledge of the Bible and the love of God which will lead them to eternal perfection. He desires for all sons of the church to continually meditate on the divine word so that they may taste as their reward how good and sweet the spirit of the Lord is.
Divino afflante spiritu
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