Sunday, February 7, 2010

Introduction to the Thomistic Scripture Commentary Series

It is with great joy that the New Theological Movement announces the following series by an outstanding priest who is currently studying dogmatic theology in Rome and who has a love and knowledge for Scriptural studies; which no doubt lie at the heart of dogma.

All too often the title of “Scripture Scholar” is reserved to a small class of individuals who have lived only during the past few hundred years and who, while excelling in the knowledge of ancient languages and cultures, all too often have little to say regarding doctrine and the content of the Christian Faith. Thus, in modern times, the “Scripture Scholar” is not the “Theologian,” but is rather a linguist and historian.
On the other hand, there are some signs of a renewed interest in the commentarial tradition of the Fathers of the Church (for example, the “Ancient Christian Commentaries” series). Connected with this trend is the revival of the “mystical interpretation” of Scripture and a growing curiosity toward the allegorical sense.

Certainly, many advancements have come from each of these movements and we must not be too quick to dismiss the achievements of these two (often competing) trends. However, it is striking to notice that almost no attention is given to the tradition of Christian scriptural commentary which developed between about AD 800 and 1800. It seems high time that this 1000 year lacuna be filled in!

It will be the goal of the “Thomistic Scripture Commentary Series” to contribute in some small way by filling in this enormous gap. With this series, it is my intention to comment on two to three theological points from the readings of the upcoming Sunday liturgy (OF). This will not be a textual or historical commentary, but a theological commentary on the sacred text.

There will be several obvious difficulties with this approach, since I will comment on theological doctrines as they happen to come up in the Sunday lectionary, which is not likely to correspond to the inherent inter-relation of those doctrines. This will no doubt be somewhat of an obstacle, as the inter-dependence of doctrine resists the tendency to isolate one teaching from the others. I hope to address this difficulty by providing, each week, a brief bibliography for the various doctrines connected to the main topics. Hopefully, this will be useful to any who are interested in further study.

As the title of the series suggests, I will rely primarily on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas - although I will occasionally make use of others, such as Cornelius a Lapide, etc... The commentaries will begin Sunday February 14, 2010 in preparation for the first Sunday of Lent.


Reginald, mt said...

Thanks for beginning the work of "filling-in" this gap in our modern approaches to Sacred Scripture!
I look forward to learning how St. Thomas fulfilled his role as "Magister in Sacra Scriptura"!
Pax. Reginald

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I hope you enjoy the series.

As you probably know, medieval scripture scholarship is especially important in development of Catholic biblical study, since it was in this period that the importance of the literal sense came to the fore.

Moreover, the practice of dividing the books of Sacred Scripture into smaller sections and establishing the relationship of these smaller parts to the whole (a practice which is essential to all modern scholarship) was first devolved in the context of scholasticism.

These characteristics of the scholastic approach to Scripture were coupled with a careful study of the text in its original language in the 16th and 17th centuries, giving birth to the "golden age" of Catholic biblical studies--which includes scholars such as St. Lawrence of Brindisi and Cornelius a' Lapide.

Reginald, mt said...


Could you explain what St. Thomas means by the "literal sense" and the "spiritual sense"? Is this different from the modern approach?

Thanks, Reg

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I will post a brief article about the literal sense in St. Thomas and how it differs from most modern approaches. Thanks for asking!

Reginald, mt said...

Thanks NTM!

CH (CPT) Brian Stanley said...

I'm looking forward to this, as I am preparing a scripture study here in Stuttgart, on the Tuesdays of Lent. This will provide me with some further guidance.

Campion said...

Its always an honor to have a military chaplain visit the site. Thank you for your service to the Lord and country.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I hope that this series will be helpful to all, but especially to priests!

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