Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 15, 2008
Bible study should lead to understanding, then contemplation
The final results of Bible study should not be understanding, but contemplation.
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY - Discovering the truth contained in the Bible about God and about each human person requires attentive reading and scholarship as well as a constant willingness to change one's life, Pope Benedict said.
"God gave us the Scriptures to teach us," the pope said June 10 at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.
In his talk, the pope reviewed the teaching of John Scotus Erigena, a ninth-century Irish theologian.
Pope Benedict said Erigena insisted on the fact that the only way to understand the Bible fully was with an approach that relied on intelligence and prayer at the same time.
The final result should be not understanding, but contemplation, he said.
An expert on the writings of the early Christian theologians of the East, Erigena said the purpose of the Bible is to help the human person "remember that which was impressed on his heart at the moment he was created in the image and likeness of God." Our understanding of God was later clouded over by original sin, the pope said.
"The words of the Holy Scriptures purify our reason, which is somewhat blind, and help us remember that which we bear in our hearts as images of God," Pope Benedict said.
For Erigena, the pope said, a Christian has "the obligation to continue to seek the truth until one reaches an experience of silent adoration of God."
The theologian taught that to know God people cannot start with their own ideas or intuitions, but must begin "with what God has said about himself in the Holy Scriptures," Pope Benedict said.
"Because God speaks only the truth," Erigena "was convinced that authority and reason can never be in opposition and he was convinced that true religion and true philosophy coincide," he said.
"This led him to draw certain consequences for interpreting the Scriptures, consequences that still today can indicate the correct path for reading the Holy Scriptures," the pope said.
READINESS FOR CONVERSION
"This exercise consists in cultivating a constant readiness for conversion. To reach a deep understanding of the text, it is necessary to move simultaneously toward the conversion of heart and the correct conceptual analysis of the biblical passage," the pope said.
Obviously, the closer a person comes to understanding the text and understanding God, the more one becomes aware of his or her weaknesses and limits, he said.
"The simple and sweet force of truth" pushes the studious believer to go even deeper, finally reaching the point of "adoring, silent recognition" of God, the pope said.