Our Lady of the Rosary
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TFP Public Square
Rosary Rallies - Traditionalist?
[ Q&A ARCHIVES ]
Question: You spoke of “biblical criticism.” How can a Catholic criticize the
Answer: “Criticism” in the
literary sense does not mean “disapproval”—but there are a number of types
of criticism that are applied to the Bible; some more correctly than
others. Some are a valuable adjunct to biblical scholarship, but others
are the attempt of Modernists and Rationalists to discredit the Bible and the
authority of the Catholic Church.
The most basic
and useful type of criticism is “textual criticism.” We are not aware
of possessing any original (autograph) manuscripts of the Scriptures. Most
were written on papyrus and have long since disappeared. What we
have are handwritten copies of copies, some of them in bad condition.
Copying is fraught with opportunities for error. Copyists often wrote
while someone else read from an exemplar manuscript, and might misunderstand
what they heard. A copyist reading directly from the exemplar might lose
his place, particularly if the passage were repetitious, or the light were bad,
or the hour late, or whatever. Some copyists added marginal notes
containing their opinions about the text, and later copyists might mistakenly
add these notes to the body of the text. Some even tried to
“harmonize” the texts, making sure that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all said the
same things even though they didn’t. The truly ancient manuscripts
contained no vowels, spaces, or punctuation!
critic seeks to take the various manuscripts and determine what the original
said. By comparing manuscripts, he can cull out the obvious repetitions
and omissions. Added comments are sometimes recognizable by their abrupt
change in style or by their reference to the biblical author (e.g. “What Saint
Mark means by this is....”) He will make use of any data he has
concerning the relative age of the manuscript families. Textual criticism
is of obvious importance to anyone who wants to read his Bible in an authentic
version. As with all forms of biblical criticism, the textual critic must
be a person of the highest integrity, not subject to denominational bias, for
his work forms the basis for all subsequent Bible criticism and translation.
Church has received the Scriptures from our Lord and the Apostles, on whose
authority we know the books that make up the divinely inspired canon of the
this assurance, the Church is not as concerned with questions of who authored
the sacred books? and when? and where? as are those who reject the Church’s
authority and who must have satisfactory answers to such questions it they are
to accept a book as scriptural. For example, we have received the book of
Deuteronomy as scriptural because Jesus Christ accepted it as such. It is
of secondary importance to know whether or not it was written by Moses, during
the Exodus, and in the Sinai desert. Still, comprehensive scholarship asks
for answers to these questions, and the correct answers are often valuable to
defend the authenticity of the Scriptures against those non-Catholics who choose
to assail them.
criticism compares the biblical text with what we know from history. This
may provide some insight as to authorship or date, and may give additional
insight into the matters related by scripture. It is occasionally misused
in attempts to find errors in the Bible, usually by not finding in history
events that are described in the Bible. That history has no record of a
given person or place is no guarantee that it did not exist. In the
ancient world information is scarce for all but the most influential people and
places. There is, for example, no doubt that a town called Capharnaum
existed in New Testament times, but for a number of years archeologists
entertained some doubt as to which ruins visible today belonged to the ancient
criticism seeks to distinguish the styles of various authors, sometimes within
the same text. Did a second author take over where Isaias left off?
Did Solomon, for example, write all of the books attributed to him? The
literary critic will seek to confirm or deny this attribution by finding (or
not) different forms or writing styles in the books. A goodly number of
scholars accept the contention of the literary critics that the first five books
of the Bible (the Torah or Pentateuch) are a patchwork, written by several authors with varying
style and vocabulary. This is rather subjective business, but some
literary critics—based on writing style and the name used for God—claim to
see as many as four separate narratives woven together by a fifth author, or
“redactor,” to form the first six books of the Bible.
Whether or not
the literary critics are correct is, of course, impossible to determine.
Who is to say that a man we have never met was incapable of varying his writing
style? For many people consistency is more difficult than variation.
But thus far there is little that should disturb a Catholic, particularly if
Moses is admitted to be the “redactor” mentioned above.
of the Pontifical Biblical Commission
Without prejudice to the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch, may it be
granted that in the composition of his work Moses used sources, written
documents namely or oral traditions, from which, in accordance with the
special aim he entertained and under the guidance of divine inspiration
he borrowed material and inserted it into his work either word for word or in
substance, either abbreviated or amplified?
In the affirmative.
become problematic is the introduction of a positivist philosophy into the
reasoning process. This is often referred to by the arrogant sounding term
“higher criticism,” although it is ambiguous—used by some to refer to
anything after textual criticism, which they call “lower criticism.”
The rationalist higher critic adopts the fundamental postulate that there is no
personal God—the only “god” is the god of the Marxists and Modernists that
is identified with nature and the evolutionary forces immanent within it.
critic takes, for example, the four authors he claims to find in Genesis through
Josue, and dates their work based on the assumption that the Jewish religion was
not revealed by God (for there is no God in that sense), but, rather, that it
evolved from a simple personification of the forces of nature, through a law
making period during which natural law was codified, and on up to a
priest-dominated religion. All of this is a natural evolutionary
process-it must be this way, for the existence of a transcendent God is
rejected, and replaced with forces immanent in nature.
higher critic takes this a step farther by rejecting everything miraculous in
Scriptures: “There being no supernatural, miracles cannot happen,
therefore they did not happen, and any miracle stories are merely symbols of
people’s religious sentiment. The “Christ of the Bible” is part of
the people’s folk wisdom; symbolic, perhaps inspirational or reassuring,
but not real like the mortal, simply human Christ who is the “Christ of
turned Rationalist view every form of priesthood with suspicion—some seeing it
as a racket that evolves to control the less clever. At least one of the
higher critics just wrote off the Torah—Deuteronomy, at least—as a
“pious fraud,” claiming that it was not written until a few decades before
the Babylonian captivity (c.623), by the High Priest Helcias, who attempted,
successfully, to get King Josias to close down all of the places of false
worship and bring about a Jewish revival.
naturally, the higher critic is biased toward finding a later rather than an
earlier date for the writing of the Gospels. The longer the interval
between the “Christ of History” and the written Scriptures, the more
plausible the idea that the “miracle stories” are nothing more than well
developed legends. There is also an urgency to place the dates for the
Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—some time after 70 AD, for all
three record our Lord’s prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, which came
to pass in that year—prophecy, of course is a form of miracle, and miracles
simply “can’t happen.”
criticism has a number of theories as to how the Gospels were written in an
order that will insure the latest dates of authorship—some even have recourse
to a non-existent hypothetical “Q” document (“Q” from the German “quelle,”
for “source”), which was necessary before Matthew and Luke could write;
each borrowing from Mark and “Q” to produce the Gospel bearing his name.
“two source” theory of the origins
of the Synoptic Gospels.
Biblical Commission supports the idea that the Synoptic Gospels were composed by
the authors traditionally assigned to them, but does allow that the relationship
between these Gospels is still open for careful and reasoned discussion if
evidence presents itself.
of the Pontifical Biblical Commission
Provided all is safeguarded that according to previous decisions must be
safeguarded, especially concerning the authenticity and integrity of the three
Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the substantial identity of the
Greek Gospel of Matthew with its original text, and the chronological order in
which they were written, in order to explain their mutual similarities and
dissimilarities, is it lawful for exegetes, given the many different and
contradictory opinions proposed by writers, to discuss the question freely and
to have recourse to hypotheses of tradition, whether written or oral, or also
of the dependence of one Gospel on another or on others that preceded it?
In the affirmative.
Ought those to be considered faithful to the above prescriptions, who without
the support of any traditional evidence or historical argument readily embrace
what is commonly called the “two document hypothesis,” the purpose of
which is to explain the composition of the Greek Gospel of Matthew and the
Gospel of Luke chiefly by their dependence on the Gospel of Mark and a
so-called collection of the discourses of our Lord; and are they consequently
free to advocate it?
In the negative to both parts.
higher critics were often men well educated in, middle eastern languages and
culture, archeology, and the linguistic sciences—often holders or former
holders of chairs of theology at Protestant universities. Those lacking
such education found themselves at an immediate disadvantage in an argument.
The higher critics set themselves up as unquestionable authorities.
cause of the influence exercised by negative criticism is the tone of assurance
with which it draws its conclusions.... In setting forth their views these
unbelievers say with a great air of confidence: “Science proves, criticism
demonstrates,” and this assertion frequently takes the place of proof and
demonstration. As though science were incarnate in their person! As
though criticism did not exist outside the hypothesis invented by their
argument ad verecundiam—a false appeal to authority—is a logical
fallacy on the part of the higher critics. No matter how well educated a
man may be, his hypothesis remains a hypothesis until convincing proofs are
offered, and, even then, might be subject to revision if new relevant
information becomes available. If one is reminded of modern day teachers
of evolution and global warning, it is because they come from the same
mold—rationalists who just know how it has to be, without regard to the
summary, biblical criticism does not criticize the Bible in the pejorative
sense. Apart, perhaps, from textual criticism, it is not all that
essential for Catholics who have the assurance of the Church that they are in
possession of an authoritative text. Nonetheless, the Popes have
encouraged Catholic scholars to learn its legitimate methods, and to become
fluent in the necessary language and archeological disciplines in order to
present well reasoned responses to those who would undermine belief in the
inspired character of the Sacred Scriptures.
TFP Public Square Rosary Rallies - Traditional?
The November-December 2007 issue of Crusade, published by the American
Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) has a number of
letters from Novus Ordo bishops supporting the TFP’s Public Square
Rosary Rallies. Why do you suppose the American hierarchy suddenly jumped
on the TFP bandwagon, and is all excited about the pre-Vatican II rosary?
More letters appear on the TFP’s website. At least four of the letters
indicated that they were in response to an August 3rd letter from the TFP
publicizing their Rosary initiative.
Many religious and political leaders will issue a pro forma response to
announcements of just about any activity that doesn’t seem
unreasonable—often, such correspondence is handled by the bishop’s (or the
politician’s) staff, without it ever coming before his eyes. Most, if
not all, Novus Ordo bishops and their staffs are well aware that an
unfavorable response, or no response at all, about the Rosary would alienate a
significant part of their contribution$ base.
that I saw in Crusade or in the bishops’ letters said anything about
“pre-Vatican II.” The letter from Thomas G. Doran, Novus Ordo
Bishop of Rockford, Illinois praises the recitation of the luminous mysteries.
TFP appears to be conservative in its politics and approach to family values,
but nothing in its literature suggests that it is a “traditionalist” or
“pre-Vatican II” organization. A few things on its website
suggest that it considers itself part of the New Order—for example, its
citations of Canon Law all come from the 1983 Code; and all of the other
organizations and periodicals they recommend are either secular or
“conservative” Novus Ordo..
The ad for their calendar (2005) indicated that it “contains a liturgical calendar combining
the official feast days of the Church and the saints’ days taken from Butler’s
Lives of the Saints”—traditionalists
would not make this distinction, for before the Novus Ordo the saints in the “official
calendar” and the saints in Butler’s were the same.