2,000,000 words lay a 'skeleton'
TIW 2,000,000-word "Catholic Commentary on
Holy Scripture," which has taken nine years to produce, was launched at a reception on Tuesday at the Challoner Club, London. A specially-bound copy was presented to Cardinal Griffin.
The volume and its compilation are described in a special article on page 4.
"Never before," said the Cardinal, "has greater indication been given of the wealth of scriptural sch o 1 a r s which this country possesses.
"1 know that I am voicing the gratitude of the Hierarchy and of Catholics in this country when I thank the editorial committee and all the contributors for a wonderful task. boldly undertaken and brilliantly carried out.
'It is strangely true that there are still many persons who labour under the delusion that the Bible is a skeleton extracted from the Catholic cupboard by Martin Luther. Nothing could be further from the truth,
"the Church has never forbidden the reading of the Bible in approved translations, though she has always insisted that, by the teach i ng authority entrusted to her by Christ, she alone has power to interpret the inspired word.
"There is sufficient evidence in the world about us to show that private interpretation leads ultimately to divergence of belief and to error.
'There are expressions, forms of speech, references and allusions to be found in the Bible which belong to ages, countries and nationalities totally different from our own. Other difficulties arise from the sublime nature of the subject matter, and we have also to consider the language difficulty.
"Did not St. Peter tell us in his epistle, when referring to the epistles of St. Paul, that in them 'there arc passages difficult to understand, and these, like the rest of scripture, are twisted into a wrong sense by ignorant and restless minds to their own undoing'?
"Countless Popes have, in Encyclical Letters, encouraged the use of the scriptures. Pope Leo XIII exhorted all the children of the Church, and especially clerics, to venerate the sacred scriptures, to read them devoutly and meditate upon them with persevereese," declaring that 'in these pages is to be sought the food which enriches the spiritual life to perfection.'
"But. some may ask. why. after all these years, is it necessary to issue a new commentary upon hooks which are centuries old?
"Although the hooks have not changed, biblical scholarship has steadily developed. As the Holy Father tells us. it is obvious that the conditions of biblical science and of subsidiary studies have changed con
siderably in the course of the past 60 years.
"There is now greater knowledge of the Holy Land. There is a more profound knowledge of ancient languages and of the conditions at the time when the books which cornprise the Bible were written, "The very art of textual criticism has been greatly developed, and it was with all these factors in mind that Pope Pius XII, in his Encyclical Letter, encouraged the preparation of criticial editions of the Bible by Catholic biblical scholars.
"The preparation of this onevolume commentary is therefore in direct accordance with the wishes so clearly expressed by His Holiness the Pope.
"We have to bear in mind that this great work of scholarship is not merely for use by advanced biblical scholars, The Bible has been given to us all to help to lead us to Heaven.
"I do not believe that its use will be confined to Catholics. So great is the scholarship evident in this commentary that it must prove of the greatest value to all those concerned with the inspired word of God.
"I trust, therefore, that it will be widely used by our own priests and laity and by non-Catholics also.
"I re-affirm my deep gratitude to those who have carried out this task. and I know that I am re-echoing their words when I also convey thanks to the publishers who have made this dream a reality."