Monday, April 11, 2011

Mondays with Verbum Domini

We continue with another selection from Verbum Domini, this time from paragraph 45:

Dialogue between pastors, theologians and exegetes

An authentic hermeneutic of faith has several important consequences for the Church’s pastoral activity. The Synod Fathers themselves recommended, for example, a closer working relationship between pastors, exegetes and theologians. Episcopal Conferences might foster such encounters with the “aim of promoting greater communion in the service of the word of God”. Cooperation of this sort will help all to carry out their work more effectively for the benefit of the whole Church. For scholars too, this pastoral orientation involves approaching the sacred text with the realization that it is a message which the Lord addresses to us for our salvation. In the words of the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, “Catholic exegetes and other workers in the field of sacred theology should work diligently with one another and under the watchful eye of the sacred magisterium. Using appropriate techniques, they should together set about examining and explaining the sacred texts in such a way that as many as possible of those who are ministers of God’s word may be able to dispense fruitfully the nourishment of the Scriptures to the people of God. This nourishment enlightens the mind, strengthens the will and fires the hearts of men and women with the love of God”.

1 comment:

Theophrastus said...

I can't help but feel a little sad when I read this paragraph, which seems to divide the Bible world between "insiders" (pastors, theologians, and exegetes) and "outsiders" (the rest of us). While the importance of teaching from the lay population is stressed elsewhere (paragraph 84), I think that a true dialogue should be among the entire people, rather than between specialists versus non-specialists.

As a pedagogical matter, it is much easier to teach when people take an active role; actively engaging with the text and interpreting it at least in so far as their own lives are concerned. Further, as a practical matter, there are so many different interpretations available to a reader that if a reader does not take an active role in discerning, he can at best decide to "sign up" as a fan of one particular commentary (such as the New Jerome or the Navarre, etc.) A discussion with a reader who has "signed up" with a different commentary then becomes a simple shouting match, rather than a discussion based on facts.

I wish that this document had given a more inclusive view on dialogue. In the end, to read the Bible is to -- to some degree -- become a Bible scholar oneself.