Catechism On Line

The Word of GOD

Book, Chapter 2

In this chapter we discuss the following topics: 

- The BIBLE, The Sacred Scripture



- Cautionary Note about The BIBLE

The BIBLE, The Sacred Scripture

In the last lecture we discussed how GOD has revealed Himself to us through His prophets. Our sacred scriptures are the product of this revelation. The jewish scriptures which make up the books of the Old Testament were originally passed on from generation to generation as a collection of Aramaic scrolls and eventually written in Hebrew. The gospels of the New Testament were originally written in Greek at about 70 A.D.(Ano Domini - years of our Lord). The BIBLE is a compilation of many sacred scriptures inspired by GOD and written in the span of about 1500 years. The BIBLE of today, was compiled and translated into Latin by St. Jerome in about 404 A.D.

The Old vs. New Testament (Covenant)

The OLD TESTAMENT comprises of 46 books accepted by the Church as inspired by GOD.

The TORAH (5 Books of Moses) is the first 5 books in the BIBLE. It is also referred to as the Pentateuch - five containers

1) Genesis
2) Exodus
3) Leviticus
4) Numbers
5) Deuteronomy

They provide the details of the covenant between God and His people - "The Laws of Moses"

The Historical Books

Reveal the history of Israelites and their struggle to live with God's commandments. If they succeeded, God had them live in peace and prosperity. However, once they failed, God punished them with wars and oppression by other nations.

The Wisdom Writings

Teach us the practical ways to live God's law. Most of the wisdom books are written by distinguished and wise men of the times, not by prophets.

The Prophetic Books

God has chosen His messengers among certain individuals to convey His messages to people. Interestingly, almost all ancient prophets do speak of a coming messiah who would rule with righteousness. Today, we know that this messiah is Jesus Christ. We also know, that this rule would not refer to His rule on Earth, but that in the spiritual world.

The NEW TESTAMENT comprises of 27 books. It speaks to us about the works and teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles.

The Gospels (the Good News)

  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
Teachings and works of Jesus during His public ministry.

The Acts of the Apostles

Describe the works of Jesus' apostles after His crucifixion and the beginnings of the Church.

The Epistles (letters of the apostles)

Comprise of the letters of the apostles to different Church communities. They are based upon the understanding of Jesus' teachings by each individual apostle.

The Book of Revelation

The last book of the New Testament and the Bible. It is based on the prophecy given to John and speaks of the end times before the 2nd coming of Jesus. Today, we live in those times.

Cautionary NOTE

While iterpreting the scriptures, it is important to realize the limitations and constrains of individual prophets receiving messages from Heaven. They too were just humans, not GOD. Particularly important is to realize the context within which such message was intended. Thus we have to ask:
  • When was the prophesy received?
  • To whom was it given?
  • For whom was it intended?
  • Under what circumstances was it received?
  • In what context was it given?
In addition, another difficulty arises during Biblical translations. Not all Bibles are equivalent. Sometimes contradictions can be encountered in some editions or translations. For this reason, it is preferable to consider the Bible to be "Inspired by GOD" rather than "The Word of GOD". From my experience, the BIBLE approved by Catholic Bishops tend to be the most reliable and authentic.

Finally, but not less importantly; in His scriptures God heavily uses symbolic stories, and symbolic meanings. Thus BIBLE is NOT to be interpreted literally word by word as regrettably often is done.

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