This past Tuesday, I began teaching a five-week course titled, “Scripture in the Life of the Church” for a cohort of men in the Diaconate Program here in the Diocese of Phoenix. The main two documents we are studying and discussing are: Dei Verbum, The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation from the Second Vatican Council and the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini. I have read both of these documents numerous times and think they are fantastic texts. Anyone serious about the Sacred Scriptures should read them.
As I was preparing my lesson plan for the first class, it hit me that writing a blog post on the importance of the scriptures and providing good faithful Scripture studies and texts on the Scriptures would not only be timely this week, but beneficial as well.
Reading, studying, and praying the Sacred Scriptures is fundamental for any good Christian. The two aforementioned documents and Providentissimus Deus, a biblical document written by Pope Leo XIII all say the soul of sacred theology is the sacred page. The Sacred Scriptures are the life-giving principal of theology!
In Providentissimus Deus, Leo says, “It is extremely desirable and even necessary that the use of Scripture influence the whole of the study of theology, becoming, as it were, its soul.” Sometime after Pope Benedict XVI was elected to the Papacy, a reporter asked him what subject should a seminarian study first, his reply, the Holy Scriptures.
As Christians, but specifically us in the Catholic tradition, should be reading the Scriptures more and more each day, for it was the Catholic Church that gathered the sacred books and developed the Canon (collection of books in the Bible) that we have today. The Holy Bible is ours. We should know it the best!
Not only should we study the Scriptures, but we need to pray with them as well. Dei Verbum states, “…prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together; for “we speak to Him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine saying” (#25). This is commonly known as Lectio Divina.
Furthermore, Verbum Domini states, “The Synod frequently insisted on the need for a prayerful approach to the sacred text as a fundamental element in the spiritual life of every believer…”(#86). St. Augustine of Hippo says, “Your prayer is the word you speak to God. When you read the Bible, God speaks to you; when you pray, you speak to God.”
The great early Church Father and Doctor of the Church, Saint Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Simply put, if you don’t know the Scriptures then you don’t know Jesus Christ.
The studies and texts below have been collected from my own experiences reading, studying, and praying the Sacred Scriptures. Please feel free to add to my list in the comment box.
Catholic Bible Studies:
- The Holy Bible – Revised Standard Edition, Second Catholic Edition, Ignatius Press
- The Catholic Church and the Bible – Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ignatius Press
- Catholic Bible Dictionary – Scott Hahn, Doubleday Religion
- Making Sense Out of Scripture – Mark P. Shea, Basilica Press
- Scripture in the Tradition – Henri De Lubac, Herder & Herder
- Jesus of Nazareth, Parts 1, 2 & 3 – Pope Benedict XVI, Ignatius Press
- The Meaning of Tradition – Yves Congar, O.P., Ignatius Press
- Praying the Bible – Mariano Magrassi, The Liturgical Press
- The Navarre Bible Biblical Commentaries, Four Courts Press
- A Father Who Keeps His Promises – Scott Hahn, Servant Publications
- A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture – Bishop Frederick Justus Kneght, D.D. (from the 16th German Edition), Tan Books and Publishers
- Inside the Bible: An Introduction to Each Book of the Bible – Kenneth Baker, S.J., Ignatius Press
- A Primer on Divine Revelation – Rev. Dwight P. Campbell, Scepter Publishers, Inc
- Where We Got the Bible, Our Debt to the Catholic Church – Henry G. Graham, Catholic Answers