The Holy Spirit - Interpreter of Scripture

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified

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Attentiveness and Study Needed (109-110)

The correct interpretation of Scripture demands attentiveness to what the human author wanted to say and to what God wanted to reveal.

Discovering the human author's intention demands a study of the culture, the modes of narrating, and the different forms of writing (history, poetry, prophecy, etc.).

Three Criteria (111-114)

Scripture must be interpreted in light of the Spirit who wrote the Scriptures. Correct interpretation requires that the reader:

  1. Be attentive to the "content and unity of the whole Scripture." God's plan (in the Old and New Testament) has a unity in Christ. "Sacred Scripture, like the ‘heart of Christ' was closed before the Passion. Since the Passion, the Scriptures have been opened" (St. Thomas Aquinas).
  2. Read the Scriptures within the Church's living Tradition. "According to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church" (Origin).
  3. Apply the "analogy of faith" (the coherence of all truths among themselves and within God's plan).

Three Spiritual Senses (115-119)

Scripture has both a literal sense (the words themselves) and three different spiritual senses:

  1. Allegorical sense - Recognizing events in the light of Christ (the parting of the Red Sea) as a sign of Baptism
  2. Moral sense - Using as a help to act justly
  3. Anagogical sense - Seeing the truths in light of eternal happiness

All interpretation is subject to the Church and exegetes must help the Church form a firmer judgment. "I believe in the Gospel because of the authority of the Church" (St. Augustine).

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