MOSAIC Spring 2015 - Page 6

would that dimension of his plan not con- spired books,” that is, in the New Testa- Scripture and Tradition belong together. tinue throughout the age of the Church? ment (DV, no. 8). The Church has always As Dei Verbum points out, it is through In fact, in his earthly ministry, Jesus understood the Scriptures not only to con- the Tradition of the Church that the cangathers around him a band of trusted tain, but actually to be the Word of God on of Scripture itself is known. disciples whom, after the resurrection, (DV, no. 24), from which, especially in the he commissions and empowers to carry liturgy, the faithful partake of the bread Which Books Are Inspired? his gospel to the ends of the earth. Jesus of life, and that she venerates “just as she Among the edifying works that circuteaches them his word and brings them venerates the body of the Lord.” The Scrip- lated in the life of the early Church, it was by baptism into the fellowship he has es- tures are a fixed and stable form of God’s crucial to discern which were of apostolic tablished with them (1 Jn 1:1-4). revelation and “make the voice of the Holy origin and inspired by the Holy Spirit, and “This commission Spirit resound in the therefore canonical, taken as the standard was faithfully fulfilled words of the prophets of revelation that no true teaching can “If the Lord’s by the Apostles who, contradict. That need became especially purpose is corporate, and Apostles.” by their oral preaching, That image is strik- urgent in the face of attempts to restrict by example, and by ob- would that dimension ing; the Scriptures the canon, like that of the second-century servances, handed on are not just a source- heretic Marcion, who wanted to eliminate of his plan not what they had received continue throughout book for information, the Old Testament and all its traces in the from the lips of Christ, not even for Church New Testament, and claims for heretical the age of the from living with Him doctrine. They are a books, like the scriptures of the Gnostics. and from what He means of communion. How did the Church know what books Church?” did, or what they had “For in the sacred belonged in the canon? learned through the prompting of the books, the Father who is in heaven First by their agreement with the shape Holy Spirit” (DV, no. 7). meets His children with great love and of the teaching passed on among the The resulting fellowship is bound to- speaks with them; and the force and churches across space and through time. gether in a common way of life, in prayer power in the word of God is so great In debating with the Gnostic heretics, St. and sacrament, in devotion to the teach- that it stands as the support and energy Irenaeus (130-202) points to this agreeing the apostles have passed on (Acts of the Church, the strength of faith for ment on the outline of the gospel, which 2:42). All that makes a pretty good sum- her sons, the food of the soul, the pure he refers to as the “canon of truth,” as a mary of what Dei Verbum thinks of as the and everlasting source of spiritual life” sign of the Church’s true descent from the content of the Church’s Tradition: “Ev- (DV, no. 21). apostles. Scripture and erything which contributes toward the One can see the speTradition, as Dei Verholiness of life and increase in faith of cial stress on the Scrip- “Distribution of ashes bum insists, flow from the peoples of God . . . her teaching, life tures in Dei Verbum the same wellspring. at the beginning of and worship . . . all that she herself is, from the fact that four They merge into a a forty-day season all that she believes” (DV, no. 8). Thus, of its six chapters are unity, and tend toward the apostles handed on what they had dedicated to the Bible: the same end, the salof penitence is not received from the Lord in both written its inspiration and inessential, but the call vation of human beand unwritten form (DV, no. 8, citing 2 terpretation; the Old ings (DV, no. 9). Thus, to repentance is.” Thessalonians 2:15). Testament; the New agreement between the Testament; and, in an Church’s public, his“Food for the Soul” especially expansive, practical chapter, Sa- torical preaching and the content of the There is more of apostolic origin, espe- cred Scripture in the life of the Church. books is a sign of the apostolicity of those cially in matters of liturgy and ecclesias- The Vatican Council fathers call for easy books. tical discipline, than we find detailed in access to the Scriptures for all the faithful Second, because there was an historical the New Testament. Of 2 Thessalonians and for Scripture to nourish and regulate continuity among those churches, going 2:15, St. John Chrysostom (349-408) says, the Church’s preaching, instruction and back to the original preaching of the apos“Hence it is manifest, that they did not catechesis. Dei Verbum aptly cites St. Je- tles, the fact of their common use of the deliver all things by Epistle, but many rome’s famous dictum, “Ignorance of the New Testament writings in their liturgies things also unwritten, and in like manner Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (DV, attested to their acknowledged authority. both the one and the other are worthy of no. 25; Comm. on Isaiah, prol.). Most fundamentally, the Church knew credit. Therefore let us think the tradiScripture, however, has its home in the the voice of the Holy Spirit who inspired tion of the Church also worthy of credit.” life of the people to whom it has been the authors, because the same Spirit Nonetheless, “The apostolic preaching entrusted. The Bible is not a standalone dwells in and guides the Church. . . . is expressed in a special way in the in- docum