For Catholic Christians, the Bible--the Old and New Testaments--is more than a document of mere historical interest. The Bible calls itself "the Word of God." In many ways God spoke to us--He revealed Himself. Yet, Jesus, the Son of God, is the perfect revelation of the Father.
The community of believers, the Church, sought to know what God authoritatively revealed to humankind.
The Bible itself does not define what it includes; nor does it claim to contain all that God revealed. Paul affirms that some of what is handed on--the way Jews passed on revelation--was "by letter," in writing.
What is the standard--the canon--of the written Word of God? The Church recorded the history of the development of the canon of the Bible under the authority of the Holy Spirit.
A primary criterion of canonicity is inspiration, the divine influence on human writers such that God is said to be the author. And God's revelation, faithfully written, aptly expressed, was expressed with infallible truth.
We discover the meaning of the Bible--hermeneutics--by the literal sense of the words first, then the fuller sense, and then the typical sense of the words of Sacred Scripture.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture texts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
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Last Updated: January 3, 1997