The Holy Spirit - Interpreter of Scripture
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified
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:
- 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).
- Read the Scriptures within the Church's living Tradition. "According to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church" (Origin).
- 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:
- Allegorical sense - Recognizing events in the light of Christ (the parting of the Red Sea) as a sign of Baptism
- Moral sense - Using as a help to act justly
- 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).