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Prepared by: Richard G.

Pazcoguin UST -IR

We encounter a lot of preachers today using Gods Word to justify their doctrines, each claiming that he or she has the monopoly of truth. As Christians who are concerned with the whole TRUTH about Sacred Scriptures, we must be well-equipped with the tools for interpreting and understanding the Sacred Scriptures in order for us to really know WHAT GOD WANTS TO TELL US not what we want God to say.

This is what the text says..

EXEGESIS Gk. ex-ago-sis


This is how I understand the text

to lead out of The in-depth study of Sacred Scriptures The process of drawing out the meaning of a text An interpretation that comes from the text In contrast to

EISEGESIS Gk. eis means into

The process of putting ones own meaning into the text An interpretation placed on the text which the text iself did no mean.




It is a PARTIAL RECORD it does not contain all of revelation It is a record of RELIGIOUS INTERPRETATION it presents the story of Israel in the light of their belief that, since they were the Chosen People, their history was directed by God.

The first consideration one should have in studying the Bible is to recognize that the BIBLE is a library, which means that though it appears like a single book, it is actually a compilation of books, each of a different literary form. For instance, a book may contain an epic, a satire, a legend, a parable, a mythetc. One must be able to identify and understand the different types of writing in the Bible in order to derive and comprehend its meaning.

MYTH symbolic expression of religious truths or ultimate realities MIDRASH imaginative reconstruction of a biblical episode HISTORY Gods revelation of Himself in the framework of events FABLE a short story embodying a lesson and introducing animals and inanimate things as actors or persons APOCALYPTIC GENRE revelation made by God concerning hidden things employing all kinds of imagery and symbolism which appeal to the imagination of the ancients WISDOM LITERATURE reflections on the meaning and problems of life, good and evil MIRACLE STORIES stories of Gods presence and of Messianic Salvation

PARABLE a simple narrative in the form of an extended metaphor which criticizes worldly values and invites conversion through reorientation of the values of the Kingdom ALLEGORY similitude which involve levels of meaning POETRY artistic depiction of life through metaphors and other exaggerations AETIOLOGY attempts to explain the origin or cause of a phenomenon of nature, condition, custom, or institution SATIRE a social commentary on a person or institution involving sarcasm, invective, parody, irony, or direct condemnation IRONY a passage with double-layered meaning LEGAL CODES Laws and Commandments PROPHECY an oracle or utterance of the spokesmen of God expressing threat, promise, reproach or admonition EPISTLE correspondence of an apostle to another person or community regarding doctrinal and pastoral matters

In interpreting scriptures, one must also realize that each book was written by a different person or groups of persons who lived in different contexts and would therefore have different biases and views of things.

To understand what the author meant with his words, the reader must be able to properly situate the author, i.e. know the culture, the socio-political conditions during the time of writing, the style of writing and the literary genre employed, etc.

The Sacred Scriptures are a response to the peoples craving for Gods Word. The content of each book are tailor-made for the particular audience to which it is addressed. To interpret a book effectively, one must also be familiar with the needs of each books audience, so as to understand why the contents of each book are as such.


St. Thomas Aquinas method of interpreting Sacred Scriptures consisted of considering the different senses of scriptures. According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of

Scripture in the Church. CCC 115

LITERAL SENSE refers to the immediate meaning conveyed by the words of Sacred Scriptures.

PROPER LITERAL SENSE The obvious or face-value meaning of the word.

IMPROPER LITERAL SENSE The meaning which the author wanted to convey through his words.

It is necessary to understand first what the text says before one can understand what the text means.

An allegory is a sustained metaphor. It is also a technique of interpreting works of art such that they will convey more than one level of meaning simultaneously.

To discover the allegorical sense of scriptures, one must pay attention to patterns and parallelisms, especially in relation to the person of Jesus. The allegorical sense is the profound meaning of events brought about by the recognition of their significance in CHRIST.

The moral sense refers to the instruction given by the text to the reader such that he be able to conduct his life according to the teachings of Sacred Scriptures.

Gk. anagoge - leading The anagogical sense refers to the pre-figurations of mans eternal union with God. Thus, the anagogical sense enables one to view realities and events in the Bible in terms of their eternal significance.

APPLICATION OF THE FOUR SENSES: Biblical Story: Wedding in Cana John 2:1-12 Literal Sense: The author referred to the changing of water into wine as a SIGN. Proper literal sense: A sign is a reality that points to a greater reality Improper literal sense: The author wanted the readers to understand that in performing the miracle, Jesus was not doing magic. Rather, this miracle was intended to call us to awareness of Gods presence in human history.

Allegorical Sense: The stone jars contained water used for Jewish purification rituals. Water symbolized Jewish traditions on purification which were ineffective in cleansing sin. Wine is an allusion of the blood of Christ which alone washed away sin and caused the salvation of humanity. Hence, the first sign signified the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant.

The Stone Jars can also symbolize Jesus. Jews believe that stone cannot be touched by impurity or by evil spirits. Jesus is that pure unblemished stone. When the Jars containing the wine was poured, the couple in Cana was saved from disgrace. When the blood of Christ was poured, the world was saved from sin.

Moral Sense: Through the miracle at Cana, Jesus teaches us the value of faith. No faith, no miracle. The greatest manifestation of this faith is obedience.

Allegorical Sense: Wedding Feast signifies the final and perpetual union of God and humanity on the last day. The Third Day the author tells us that the sign occurred on the Third Day, which evokes the memory of Christs glorious resurrection, prefiguring his appearance in glory on the last day.

LITERARY CRITICISM analysis of the texts literary form. Is it a myth? A legend? An epic? Is it poetry? Religious history? Etc HISTORICAL CRITICISM analysis of the historical context (culture, significant events, sociopolitical-economic conditions, foreign influences) in which the text was written. REDACTION CRITICISM analysis of the motives or intent of the writer or editor since literature is always conditioned by the authors concerns.

Biblical Story: The Visit of the Magi Matthew 2:1-12 Literary Criticism: Since no one was there to witness and record the events during Christs infancy, this story must be a MIDRASH an imagined story not intended to give biographical information on the protagonist, but to describe him through symbolic narratives.

Historical Criticism: This story was written during the time when

Jews were being converted to Christianity. Its author was a Jew and the audience were Jews as well. Some details of the story were lifted from Old Testament prophecies of which the audience were familiar. (e.g. Bethlehem, Dream, Star) Most likely, the writing of Matthews account was done after Christianity was officially excommunicated from Judaism. To criticize the Jews rejection of Jesus Christ, the author presented Gentiles as the Messiahs first visitors.

Redaction Criticism: The author presented Jesus as a royal king, not born in a stable but in a house. To emphasize Jesus royalty, the author situated the story in Bethlehem, the hometown of David. Noble wise men, not shepherds, were the first visitors. These foreigners were the first visitors of the newborn Jewish king. The author wanted to make his Jewish audience feel sorry that while Christ was principally sent for them, they rejected him. The Gentiles were the ones that accepted him first and acknowledged him as the Messiah sent by God.

The Holy Spirit, whom we acknowledge as the author of Sacred Scriptures, is the only One who could reveal to us what the Bible truly means because only the author can truly explain what he meant
with his words.

The Holy Spirit dwells in the Church. It is therefore the Church who teaches us the correct meaning of Scriptures.
Read the Scripture within the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a
saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture. CCC 113

Interpretation must be done within the living tradition of the church, whose first concern is fidelity to the revelation attested by the Bible Due consideration must be given to the historical character of biblical revelation since Gods self disclosure took place through human language, within human history. Since the bible contains the universal Word of God, this Word must be interpreted in such a way that it becomes responsive to the needs of its reader today The Scriptural text must always be interpreted in relation Christ, to the whole of Scripture, and to life of the Church.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH THE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE IN THE CHURCH Pontifical Biblical Commission, 1994 Martin Dybicz and Sister Mary Walsh, S.U. UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE: Owning Your Life and Your Faith Makati: Salesiana Publishers Inc., 1985 Dr. Margaret Nutting-Ralph AND GOD SAID WHAT?: An Introduction to Biblical Literary Forms for Bible Lovers New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1986 Fr. Gerry Tapiador, SSL THE MYSTERIOUS SEED Makati: St. Paul Publications, 1988