You are here:

Catholics/Reading and studying the Bible

Advertisement


Question
When we are reading or studying the ancient reality books of the Bible shouldn't we keep reminding ourselves of historical fact that until the eighteenth century voices-like visions were ascribed to supernatural agencies, gods or demons, angels or djinns and that the great range of hallucinatory experience is an essential part of the human condition?

Answer
Human experiences throughout the centuries have received various and varied interpretations.
Concerning the bible, we need to recognize that the writers were communicating God's message to people of their time as their primary audience.  For example, the current concepts of astrophysics about the creation of the universe would not have been understood by people of biblical times.

The Israelites had a very special and distinctive notion of God -- a special name [YHWH], and only one God for all humanity [clearly in Isaiah].  Also, they sometimes used contemporary religious ideas and corrected them in accordance with their theology.  
For example, Genesis corrects the ancient concepts of many gods [stars, planets, animals, etc] to proclaim that one God, Maker of the universe, including stars, birds, animals, humans.  They also corrected the theology of the Babylonian account of the worldwide flood to meet their theology through Noah and his family.

These example show that the Israelites did not accept pagan interpretations of theology.  So, to impose pagan ideology on Israelite theology, one would need some specific evidence of such an acceptance.   

In the New Testament, we find the culmination of the rationale for the acceptance of Christianity -- the resurrection of Jesus.  His empty tomb and appearances convinced disciples so that they changed and gave their lives to defend the Gospel.  The turn-around of Saul is most unlikely, humanly speaking.

I have summarized credentials of Christianity about the one God, the source of all truth.
So, if one thinks that Christian ideas have their source in human visions and hallucinations, such a one has the burden of proof to show the evidence that merely human mental mechanics are such a source.  I do not think that is possible, given the credible evidence for the existence of God and His message through His Son Jesus Christ.  God's message is conveyed in a manner capable of being understood by limited human intelligence.

Please excuse my delay in answering your question.  Many things have occupied my time these recent days.

If you would like further thoughts or explanations or if I have missed the intent of your question, please feel free to write again.  
Best wishes in your searching for the truths of God, Who cannot deceive or be deceived.

Catholics

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Edward Bode

Expertise

Catholic dogma, especially as related to Scripture. I have a doctorate in biblical theology [University of St. Thomas, Rome]. I do not answer questions concerning personal moral situations -- ones dealing with right and wrong [sin].

Experience

I have taught Catholic thought in grade and high schools, and in college and universities.

Organizations
Catholic Biblical Association

Publications
Catholic Biblical Quarterly, The Bible Today.

Education/Credentials
Graduate degrees in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, in scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas; all in Rome

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.