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The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today on the private interpretation of the Scriptures.


  • The Catechism Today
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This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on this issue:


From the Section on the Word of God


III. The Interpretation Of The Heritage Of Faith


The heritage of faith entrusted to the whole of the Church


84 The apostles entrusted the "Sacred deposit" of the faith (the depositum fidei),45 contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. "By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practicing and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful."


(Vatican II, Dei Verbum 10 § 1; cf. Acts 2:42 (Greek); Pius XII, apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, 1 November 1950:AAS 42 (1950), 756, taken along with the words of St. Cyprian, Epist. 66, 8:CSEL 3/2,733: "The Church is the people united to its Priests, the flock adhering to its Shepherd.")


The Magisterium of the Church


85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 10 § 2) This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.


86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 10 para 2)


87 Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: "He who hears you, hears me", (Luke 10:16; cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 20) the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.



In Brief

96 What Christ entrusted to the apostles, they in turn handed on by their preaching and writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to all generations, until Christ returns in glory.


97 "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God" (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 10) in which, as in a mirror, the pilgrim Church contemplates God, the source of all her riches.


98 "The Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes". (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 8 § 1)


99 Thanks to its supernatural sense of faith, the People of God as a whole never ceases to welcome, to penetrate more deeply and to live more fully from the gift of divine Revelation.


100 The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.


(CCC 101 — 104)



From the Section on the Sacred Scriptures

II. Inspiration And Truth Of Sacred Scripture

105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11)

"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11; cf. John 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 3:15-16)

106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11)

107 The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11)

108 Still, the Christian faith is not a "religion of the book." Christianity is the religion of the "Word" of God, a word which is "not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living". (St. Bernard, S. missus est hom. 4,11:PL 183,86) If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, "open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures." (cf. Luke 24:45)


III. The Holy Spirit, Interpreter Of Scripture


109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words. (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 1)


110 In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 2)


(111 — 114) But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 3)


The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it. (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 4)

  1. Be especially attentive "to the content and unity of the whole Scripture". Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God's plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.

    (cf. Luke 24:25-27,44-46)

    The phrase "heart of Christ" can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.

    (St. Thomas Aquinas, Expos. in Psalm 21,11; cf. Psalm 22:14)

  2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture.

    (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church." Origen, Homily in Leviticus 5,5:PG 12,454D)

  3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. (cf. Romans 12:6) By "analogy of faith" we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.

The senses of Scripture


(115 — 117) According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

  1. The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal." (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 1, 10, ad I)

  2. The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

    • The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism. (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:2)

    • The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction". (1 Corinthians 10:11; cf. Hebrews 3:1-4:11)

    • The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem. (cf. Revelation 21:1-22:5)

118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:

The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.


(Lettera gesta docet, quid credas allegoria, moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia; Augustine of Dacia, Rotulus pugillaris, I: ed. A. Walz: Angelicum 6 (1929) 256)

119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgment. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12 § 3)

But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.


(St. Augustine, Contra epistolam Manichaei, 5,6:PL 42,176)


V. Sacred Scripture In The Life Of The Church


131 "And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 21) Hence "access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 22)


132 "Therefore, the study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too - pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place - is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 24)


133 The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 25; cf. Phil 3:8 and St. Jerome, Commentariorum in Isaiam libri xviii prol.:PL 24,17B)


In Brief


137 Interpretation of the inspired Scripture must be attentive above all to what God wants to reveal through the sacred authors for our salvation. What comes from the Spirit is not fully "understood except by the Spirit's action".


(cf. Origen, Hom. in Exodus. 4, 5: PG 12, 320)



  1. Diodorus, (Diodorus Siculus), ( B.C. 60 - B.C. 30)
    St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202)
    St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220)
    St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258)
    Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338)
    St. Athanasius of Alexandria, (A.D. 296-372)
    St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378)
    St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389)
    St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379)
    St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403)
    Pope St. Siricius, (A.D. c.334-398)
    St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396)
    St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444)
    Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458)
    Pope St. Celestine I, (unknown - A.D. 432)
    Capreolus of Carthage, (c. A.D. late 4th century - A.D. 437)
    St. Vincent of Lérins, (A.D. c.400-445)
    Arnobius Junior, (flourished in the 5th century, A.D. c.460)
    Pope St. Gelasius I, (unknown - A.D. 496)

Diodorus, (Diodorus Siculus), ( B.C. 60 - B.C. 30), a Greek historian known for his own work "Bibliotheca historica". St. Jerome in one of his writings tells us: "Diodorus of Sicily, a writer of Greek history, became illustrious."

"I wish to inform you that a certain person, named Manes, has come hither lately, professing that he perfects the doctrine of the New Testament. And, in sooth, in what he has said, there were some things which are part of our faith, but others of his assertions were widely different from what comes down to us from the tradition of our fathers. For he gave some interpretations quite opposite to ours, and to these he added things of his own, which to me appeared exceedingly strange and false. . . . You know that men who wish to assert a dogma of any kind, have this custom, that whatsoever they choose to select from the Scriptures, that they obstinately wrest by their own interpretation. But the apostolic word, forestalling this, brands it, saying, "If any one shall preach to you besides that which ye have received, let him be anathema." Wherefore, after the things which once for all were delivered by the Apostles, the disciple of Christ must not beyond that receive anything else whatever."

Diod. Archelao Episcopo, Galland. t. iii. p. 595.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 365-366

St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202), Asia Minor; bishop, missionary, theologian, defender of orthodoxy. Though by birth a Greek, he was Bishop of Lyons in the second century. He tells us that, in his early youth, he learned the rudiments of religion from St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle. He wrote several works, of which only a few fragments are now known, with the exception of his Treatise against Heretics which we have in five books.

Such things, therefore, do they all say regarding their pleroma, perverting those things which (in the Scriptures) are well said, to apply them to their evil inventions. And not merely from the evangelical and apostolical writings do they attempt to deduce proofs, by perverted interpretations and unfaithful expositions, but also from the law and the prophets, which containing many parables and allegories capable of being drawn into various meanings, others of them craftily and deceitfully, by means of interpretation, accommodating this ambiguity to their pleroma, lead captive from the truth those who have not a firm faith in one God, Father Almighty, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

Adv. Hæres. l. 1, c. iii. n. 6, pp. 17, 18.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 352-353

[After stating that, if any one wished to try the Valentinians and Gnostics, he had only to ask their opinions on the passages of Scripture which relate to Christ's coming, to receive seven or eight different interpretations, he continues:]

"So many diversities (of opinion) are there amongst them about one matter, holding various opinions respecting the same Scriptures, and when one and the same discourse has been read, they all, knitting their eyebrows, and shaking their heads, pronounce that the discourse is very sublime indeed, but that all men cannot compass the magnitude of the meaning therein contained, and that on this account, silence is a most important thing amongst wise men. . . . And thus all who were present take their departure, burdened with so many sentiments upon one point; carrying away hidden within themselves their acumen. When, therefore, they shall have agreed amongst themselves respecting the things proclaimed in the Scriptures, then also shall they be confuted by us. For, not thinking rightly, they, in the meanwhile, convict each other, not agreeing respecting the very same words. But we, following one, and the alone true God (as) teacher, and having His discourses as the (or a) rule of truth, always say the same things respecting the same matters, knowing one God, the maker of the universe. . . ."

Ib. 1. iv. c. 35, p. 277.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 352-353

St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220), Greek; theologian, a scholar of Pantaenus, to whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, Egypt. His writings display great acquaintance with the Gentile philosophy. He wrote with the express design of hiding the mysteries of the Christian religion from the Pagans, and the uninitiated, while at the same time, laboring to show the immense practical superiority of the Christian code of morals over that of every Pagan sect and system of philosophy.

"They (the heretics) do away with the true doctrine of the Lord; not interpreting and transmitting the Scriptures agreeably to the dignity of God and of the Lord: for the understanding and the cultivation of the pious tradition, agreeably to the teaching of the Lord, through His Apostles, is a deposit to be rendered to God. That which you hear in the ear, covertly, that is, and in a mystery, — for such things are allegorically said to be spoken in the ear, — preach ye, saith He, upon the house-tops, receiving them, that is, with elevation of mind, transmitting them with boldness of speech, and explaining the Scriptures according to the canon of the truth. For neither the prophets, nor the Saviour Himself, announced the divine mysteries so simply as to be easily comprehended by all persons whatever, but spoke in parables. . . . All things are right to them that understand, saith the Scripture. (Proverbs 8:9) to those, that is, who perfectly preserve His manifested interpretation of the Scriptures, according to the ecclesiastical canon (or rule): but the ecclesiastical canon is the concurrence and the harmony both of law and of prophets, with the covenant delivered during the Lord's presence. . . . For many reasons, therefore, do the Scriptures hide their meaning. And first, that we may become inquirers, and may always be earnest, without ceasing, in the discovery of the saving words: in the next place, neither was it befitting for all men to understand that so they might not be injured by erroneously interpreting the things spoken unto profit by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, for the elect amongst men, and for those who through faith have been admitted unto knowledge, the holy mysteries of the prophecies have been kept concealed by parables. For the style of the Scriptures is parabolic. . . . Lastly, the parabolic kind of writing being most ancient, was with reason most frequent with the prophets." (*)

(*) He alludes to Strom. 1. v. where occurs the celebrated passage on the Egyptian hieroglyphics and on symbolic writing. The following sentence comprises his views: "All who have treated of divine things, whether Greeks or barbarians, concealed the principles of things, and transmitted the truth by ænigmas and symbols, and also by allegories and metaphors, and such like figures." - p. 658.

Strom. l. vi. pp. 803-4.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 353-354

St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258), North African; bishop; biblical scholar, martyr.

"Neither let certain persons deceive themselves by a vain interpretation, in that the Lord has said, "Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them. (Matthew 18:20) Corrupters of the gospel, and false interpreters, they lay down the last words, and omit what goes before; giving heed to part, and part they deceitfully suppress. As they are cut off from the Church, so do they sever the meaning of one passage. For the Lord, when recommending to His disciples unanimity and peace, said, I say unto you, that "if two of you shall agree on earth, concerning anything whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be done to you by my Father who is in Heaven. For wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them", showing that most is given, not to the number, but to the [unanimity|everyone being of one mind] of the petitioners. If two of you, saith He, shall agree on earth. He places agreement first; the concord of peace is the previous condition; He teaches that we must agree together faithfully and firmly.

Yet how can he possibly be at agreement with other, who is at disagreement with the body of the Church, and with the universal brotherhood? How can two or three be gathered together in Christ's name, who are manifestly separated from Christ and from His gospel? For we did not go out from them, but they went out from us. And as heresies and schisms have a later rise, when men set up separate conventicles for themselves, they have left the (fountain) head and origin of truth."

De Unitate, p. 400.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 364-365

Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338), appointed Bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 314, Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist, scholar of the Biblical canon who was deeply embroiled in the Arian controversy.

The chapter begins, like many others in this work, with an extract from Plato's works, showing the correspondence between his system and that of the Jews and Christians, and in the case before us, the quotation is from "Lib. i De Legibus", where Plato approves of a law of the Lacedemonians forbidding young men to inquire into the laws; on which Eusebius says:

"This advice is most sound. Therefore was it that the Jewish Scripture, forestalling this, requires faith before there is intelligence or scrutiny of the divine writings: "If you will not believe, you shall not understand." (Isaiah 7:9); and again, "I have believed, therefore have I spoken." (Psalms 115:1). Hence also amongst us, to those who have been but recently introduced amongst us, and whose habits are not formed, and who are, as regards their souls, mere infants, the reading in the divine writings is communicated in the most simple form, accompanied with an admonition that they ought to yield belief to the things brought before them as to the words of God; but to those whose habits of mind are settled, and who are as it were gray in understanding, (it is theirs) to penetrate and to examine the meaning of the things said. These persons it was the pleasure of the Jews to call doctors of tradition "(Deuterotae)", as being interpreters and expounders of the meaning of the Scriptures."

Praep. Evang. l. xii. c. 1, p. 573.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 366-367

"Then also do they divide His garments among them, and for His vesture cast lots, when, — corrupting the beauty of the word, that is, the expressions of the divine writings, — each one drags them in a different direction; and when men take up opinions concerning Him from perverted doctrines, things which it is the custom of impious heretics to do."

Dem. Evang. l. x. p. 506.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 367

St. Athanasius of Alexandria, (A.D. 296-372), Egyptian; bishop, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. He was present, as an assistant to St. Alexander of Alexandria, at the council of Nicea who he succeeded in A.D. 326. During more than forty years he was the champion of orthodoxy, and suffered much severe persecution from the Arian party.

Having noticed that the devil tries to transform himself into an angel of light, and cites Scripture for his purposes, he continues:

"Christ has of Himself told us of this, saying, "Beware of false prophets who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly are ravening wolves." (Matthew 7); and also by the Apostles, "Believe not every spirit." (1 John 4) For such is the method of the adverse powers, and such the confederation of the heresies. For each has, as the parent of its peculiar opinion, the devil, who, being perverted from the beginning, became a murderer and a liar; and, ashamed to adduce his hateful name, each assumes falsely that excellent name, which is above every other, the name of the Saviour, and clothes itself in the language of the Scriptures, and speaks indeed the words, but hides the true meaning; and for the rest having enveloped the peculiar opinion which it has formed in a kind of ambush, it also becomes the murderer of those who go astray."

Ep. ad Episc. Ægypt. et Lyb. n. 3, t. 1, p. 215.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 368-369

"When they (the Arians) have been driven from the conceptions, or rather from the misconceptions, of their own hearts, they fly again to the words of the divine writings; in regard of which too, they being as usual destitute of sense, do not see the meaning that is in them; but having laid down their peculiar impiety as a kind of canon, they wrest to this point all the divine oracles. Such men when they but quote those sayings deserve not to have anything said to them but, "Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God." "(*)

Note (*) Earlier in the same discourse against the Arians, we meet with the following passage:

"If then, on account of the use of certain phrases of the divine writings in the Thalia (a poem by Arius), they also reckon its blasphemies blessings, of course too, as they see the Jews reading the law and the prophets, they will on this account themselves also join with them in denying Christ. And if they chance to hear the Manichees also citing certain portions of the Gospels, they will join with them in denying the law and the prophets. If it be from ignorance that they are thus tossed about, and utter such vain babblings, let them learn from the Scriptures, that the devil, who invented heresies, because of the ill savor which attaches to evil, is in the habit of using words of the Scriptures, that, having them as a cloak, whilst he sows his own poison, he may deceive the unsuspecting. Thus he deceived Eve: thus he framed all other heresies; so too has he now persuaded Arius to speak and to seem to be opposed to heresies, thereby to be unobserved whilst he spreads abroad his own."

[Having named some of the novelties in the Arian heresy, he continues]

"Who ever heard such things as these? or whence, or from whom have the favorers and hirelings of this heresy learnt them? Who, when they were catechized, ever spoke such things to them? But since they (the Arians) allege the divine oracles, and force on them a misinterpretation, according to their private sense, it is necessary to answer them so far as to vindicate these passages, and to show that they have an orthodox signification, and that these men are in error."

** End of Note

Orat. 1. Cont. Arian. n. 52, t. i. p. 360.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 369

St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378), Syrian; born in Nisebis, deacon, hymnist, poet. His works were even during his own lifetime almost all translated into Greek, and were, as St. Jerome informs us, held in such high estimation, as to be read in some churches after the Holy Scriptures. We have his life by St. Gregory of Nyssa.

"While (the sects) mutually refute and condemn each other, it has happened to truth as to Gideon; that is, while they flight against each other, and fall under wounds mutually inflicted, they crown her. All the heretics acknowledge that there is a true Scripture. Had they all falsely believed that none such existed, some one might reply that such Scripture was unknown to them. But now they have themselves taken away the force of such plea, from the fact that they have mutilated the very Scriptures. For they have corrupted the sacred copies; and words which ought to have but one interpretation, they have wrested to strange significations. Whilst, when one of them attempts this, and cuts off a member of his own body, the rest demand and claim back the severed limb. ... It is the Church which perfect truth perfects. The Church of believers is great, and its bosom most ample; it embraces the fullness (or, the whole) of the two Testaments."

[He proceeds to describe the heretics of his day as mutilating the Scriptures.]

T. ii. Syr. Serm. 2, Adv. Hæres. pp. 441-2
See also Adv. Hæres. Serm. 15, p. 476, B.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 371

"Assembled in the Church they dispute, and in the very presence of truth, they pass to futile discussions . . . looking on truth as if it were a garment, they have tried, though in vain, to tear it in pieces; for truth is one and indivisible; whence it happens, contrary to their expectations, that whilst striving to divide truth, they divide amongst themselves, and are at the same time outcasts from the kingdom of God. But not therefore do they lay down their weapons; they prepare for war; they hope for victory; and what victory, but one which, despite false appearances, is a real overthrow. They are assiduous at Scripture, not to profit by pious reading, but that they may err more freely; and they come from the Scriptures more ready for disputes and quarrels. . . . The foolish men, they have turned aside from the stones set as guides in the king's high-way; and that they may wander with less restraint, they have plunged into pathless and desert places. But indeed to him alone who perseveres in keeping to the king's high-way, will it be granted to possess the gifts, and to come to the presence of the king."

T. iii. Syr. Serm. 66
Adv. Scrutat. pp. 128-9.
See also Adv. Scrutat. p. 130, D. E.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 371-372

St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367), French; husband, theologian, bishop of Poiters around A.D. 355, and Doctor of the Church. Referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West.". He was obviously a firm supporter of St. Athanasius.

"Many have there been who have taken up the simplicity of the heavenly words according to that sense which their will dictated, not for the end of the truth itself, interpreting otherwise than the force of the words required. For heresy is not from Scripture, but from the understanding (of it); and the sense, not the words, the cause of crime."

De Trinitate, Lib. ii. n. 3, t. ii. p. 27.
See also the quotation from Lib. vii. De Trinit. n. 4.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 367

4. Having reproached the Arians for not adhering to the faith as expressed in the form of baptism, he says that, since their original defection, "A habit of writing and innovating in faith has grown up: a habit which, having undertaken to frame what is new, rather than to defend what has been received, neither defends what is old, nor has settled what is new, and thus has been made a faith of the times rather than of the Gospels; while what is defined is according to the year, not that held which is according to the profession at baptism. It is for us a very dangerous, and at the same time a pitiful thing, that there are now as many faiths as wills; and as various doctrines amongst us, as morals; and as many causes of blasphemies, as there are vices; while faiths (creeds) are either written as we wish them, or are interpreted as we wish them. And, whereas, according as God is one, and the Lord one, and baptism one, faith also is one, we fall away from that faith (4) which is the only one; and while many faiths are made, they have begun to be made towards this result, that there may be no faith."

5. "For we are conscious on both sides, that since the synod assembled at Nicaea, there is nothing but creed-writing. . . . We have yearly and monthly faiths decreed concerning God; we repent of what has been decreed; we defend what has been repented of; we anathematize what has been defended...

9. Remember, however, that there is no heretic who does not now assert falsely that he utters according to Scripture the things wherein he blasphemes. . . . All plead Scripture, without the mind of Scripture; and unbelieving, plead belief. For Scripture is not in reading but in comprehending."

Ad Constant. August, lib. ii. n. 4, 5, 9, t. ii. pp. 545-7.
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St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386), Palestinian; ordained by Maximus, he was made bishop of Jerusalem in A.D. 345; scholar and Doctor of the Church. None of his writings have been preserved to us, except eighteen catechetical instructions addressed to catechumens, and five mystagogic discourses addressed to neophytes.

"Take thou, and hold that faith only as a learner, and in profession, which is now by the Church delivered to thee, and is defended out of all the Scripture. For since all cannot read the Scriptures, but some as being unlearned, others, by business, are hindered from knowledge (of them), in order that the soul may not perish from want of instruction, we comprehend the whole doctrine of the faith in a few sentences. This I wish you to remember in the very phrase, and to rehearse it with all diligence amongst yourselves, not writing it on paper, but graving it by memory on your heart; being on your guard in your exercise, lest haply a Catechumen should overhear the things delivered to you. This I wish you to have as a provision by the way during the whole period of life, and besides this never to receive any other; not even if we ourselves, having changed, should contradict what we now teach ; nor even if an opposing angel, transformed into an angel of light, should wish to lead you astray. "For, though we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach to you besides that which you have now received, let him be to you Anathema:" and for the present, hearkening to the words spoken, commit to memory the faith, and receive, at the fitting season, the proof, from the divine writings, of each of the things laid down. For the things of the faith (creed) were not set down as it seemed good to men, but the most important things collected out of all the Scripture make up the one teaching of the faith. And in the same way as the mustard seed, in a little grain, comprises many branches, so this faith also, in a few words, has enfolded in its bosom the whole knowledge of piety(*) that is in the Old and New Testaments. Behold therefore, brethren, and "hold fast the traditions which you now receive" (2 Thessalonians 2:14), and "write them upon the tablets of your hearts." (Proverbs 7:3)"

Catech. v. n. 12, pp. 77-8.

Note: (*) In his eleventh Catechetical Instruction we have the following:

"Who is there that knoweth the deep things of God, save only the Holy Spirit, who dictated (spoke) the divine writings? But not even the Holy Spirit Himself has spoken in the Scriptures concerning the generation of the Son from the Father. Why, then, dost thou search curiously into the things which not even that Holy Spirit has written in the Scriptures? Thou that knowest not the things that are written, dost thou search curiously into the things that are not written? We do not comprehend that which is written, why do we search curiously into that which is not written? It is enough for us to know that God begot one only Son."

Catechetical Instruction xi. n. 12. pp. 77-78.
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"Let us then seek out for ourselves the testimonies concerning the Passion of Christ; for we have assembled together, not now to make a contemplative exposition of the Scriptures, but to be made assured rather of the things which we have (already) believed."(*)

Catech. xiii. n. 9, p. 187. 1
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Note: (*) The system pursued in the church of Jerusalem, and acted on through out the Instructions of St. Cyril, is to require assent to the doctrines of the creed, previous to any demonstration whatever of the individual articles of that creed. Few writers, it may also be remarked, make mention of more practices, and of practical doctrines also, derived solely, or principally, from tradition than does St. Cyril.

St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389), Cappadocian; archbishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church.

"Order has settled, even in the churches, that some be sheep and others shepherds; some the ruled and others the rulers; that this be as it were the head, this the foot, this the hand, this the eye, and this as some other member of the human body, for the perfect harmony and benefit of the whole, as well of the highest as of the lowest. And as, in our bodies, the members are not severed from each other, but the whole is one body composed of different members... so is it with us who are the common body of Christ. For all we are one body in Christ, being individually members of Christ and of each other; for one in deed rules and is seated in honor, another is guided and governed, and the employment of both is not the same unless to rule and to be ruled be the same thing yet do they both be come one unto one Christ, being built up and joined together by the same Spirit. . . . Let us revere this order, brethren; this let us guard. Let one be the ear, another the tongue, a third the hand, another some other member. Let one teach, another learn, another do good (working) with his own hands, that he may have wherewith to bestow on him that asks, and on the needy. Let not all of us be the tongue, nor all prophets, nor all apostles, nor all expounders. Is it an excellent thing to speak of God? More excellent is it to purify one's self unto God. To teach is excellent, but to learn is free from danger. Why doest thou make thyself a shepherd, though one of the flock? Being the foot, why wilt thou become the head! Why take upon thee to play the general, though enrolled amongst the common soldiers? Why pursue the great, but uncertain gains of the ocean, when, though thou mayest gain less, it is in thy power to till the earth?"

T. i. Or. xxvi. pp. 449, 450.
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"If these men (the Apollinarists), equally with those who hold rightly, are permitted to teach as they choose, and to promulgate in public their adopted dogmas, is it not manifest that the doctrine of the Church is thereby condemned, as if the truth were with those men? For it is not in nature that two contrary assertions, on the same subject, can both be true."

Or. 46, p. 722
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St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379), Cappadocian; bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 369, theologian, monk. Studied in Palestine, Constantinople, and Athens. Many of the subsequent years of his life were spent in the deserts of Egypt and Libya. His character and works have gained for him the surname of "the great".

"What is this that thou sayest? Shall we not assign greater weight to those who have preceded us? Are we not to show respect, both to the multitude of those who are now Christians, and of those who have been such from the first promulgation of the Gospel? Are we to make no account of the authority (or, dignity) of those who have shone conspicuous in every kind of spiritual gift, to all of whom this way of impiety of thine, which thou hast just invented, is hateful and adverse? But is each of us, closing completely the eyes of the soul, and banishing utterly from his thoughts the memory of every one of the saints, with his heart a perfect void and swept clean, to submit himself to thy guidance and sophistry? Great indeed would be thy sway, if what the devil, with his varied wiles, has never attained to, should fall to thy lot at thy bidding; if, that is, at thy persuasion we should judge that tradition which has prevailed amongst so many holy men throughout the whole of the years that have flown by, deserving of less honor than thy impious fancy."

T. i. p. i. Adv. Eunom. l. i. n. 3, p. 297.
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St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403), Palestinian; bishop, abbot, scholar.

"Oh, the exceeding foolishness of man! — Every pretext, be it however slight, has drawn aside from the truth every heresy, and led it into a multitude of evils. For like a man, who, having found a gap in the fence to the highway, makes up his mind to walk through it, and leaving the public road, he turns from it, thinking he has a shorter road, from which, after thus deviating, he shall again come upon the highway, but knows not that there is a very high wall which is built up for a long distance, and he then runs about unable to find an outlet, and passing on for a mile or two, there still remains a further distance, and yet he finds no road, and so, turn where he will, he has before him a greater length of journey; while toiling on thus, finding no path which may lead him to the right road, and perhaps unable even to find one without retracing his steps on that upon which he lately entered; so every heresy, though it has it in its power to find a short road, yet does it wander to and fro over one that is longer, and meets at once with an impregnable wall, the tortuous windings, to wit, of ignorance and of folly, and such cannot find a way to come upon the right road, except by returning to the main road, the king's highway that is. Even as the law of blessed Moses plainly proclaimed, saying to the king of Edom, "Thus saith thy brother Israel, Through thy boundaries will we pass unto the land which the Lord swore to give unto our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey. . . . We will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left; we will drink water for silver, and eat our food for silver; we will not turn aside either here or there; we will go on the king's highway." (Numbers 20) For there is a king's highway, and that is the Church of God, and the path way of truth. But each of the heresies having left the king's highway, and turning aside to the right hand or to the left, then giving itself up unreservedly, is dragged forward into error, and the shamelessness of error knows no limits in every heresy. Come, then, ye servants of God, and children of the holy Church of God, ye who are acquainted with the safe rule, and are walking in the way of truth, and who are not dragged from side to side by words, and the summons of each false sect, for slippery are their ways. . . . They boast of great things, and know not the least: they proclaim liberty, though themselves the slaves of error."

T. i. Adv. Hæres. (59), pp 503-504
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Pope St. Siricius, (A.D. c.334-398), an active Pope, involved in the administration of the Church and the handling of various factions and viewpoints within it; author of two decrees concerning clerical celibacy. The decree of A.D. 385 stated that priests should stop cohabiting with their wives.

"If I, to whom belongs the care of all the churches, shall dissemble, I shall hear that saying of the Lord, "You reject the commandment of God, that you may establish the traditions of men." For to reject the commandment of God, what else is it but by private judgment and human counsel to take pleasure over-freely in establishing novelties. It has therefore been brought to the knowledge of the apostolic see, that things are undertaken in opposition to the canon of the Church, and that in opposition to those things which have been so ordered by our forefathers, that they ought not, even by the slightest whisper, to be assailed, certain persons introduce their own novel observances; and, the foundation neglected, seek to build upon the sand, though the Lord says, "Thou shalt not pass beyond the bounds which thy fathers have set." Which also the holy Apostle, the preacher of the Old and New Testament, he in whom Christ spoke, admonishes: "Stand fast, he says, and hold our traditions which you have learned, whether by word or by epistle." (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

Ep. ad Univ. Orthod. n. i. col. 1027, t. ii. Labb.
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St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396), German; reluctantly made bishop in the A.D. 374., Doctor of the Church. He closed a great and glorious career in A.D. 396. We have his life by Paulinus.

"Learn also hence, that Satan transforms himself as it were into an angel of light, and often sets a snare for the faithful by means of the divine Scriptures themselves. Thus does he make heretics; thus weaken faith; thus attack the requirements of piety. Let not, therefore, the heretic ensnare thee, because he is able to cite a few examples from Scripture; let him not assume to himself an appearance of learning. The devil also uses texts of Scripture, not to teach, but to circumvent and deceive."

T. i. Expos, in c. iv. Lucae, n 26, p. 1340.
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"A man that is a heretic after the first admonition avoid, knowing that such a one is perverted and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment. These are heretics who attack the law by means of the words of the law, for they establish their private sense by the words of the law, in order to commend the wickedness of their own under the authority of the law (proprium enim sensum verbis adstruunt legis). For as impiety knows that the authority of the law avails much, it dresses out a fallacy under its name; that, since a thing that is evil cannot be acceptable of itself, it may be recommended by a good name."

Comm. in c. iii. Ep. ad Titum (Inter. Op. S. Ambros.) T. ii. p. 316.
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St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420), Dalmatian; born in Strido; priest, hermit, abbot, biblical scholar, translator and Doctor of the Church. In an age distinguished by men of the greatest eloquence and learning, St. Jerome, especially in all matters connected with the Sacred Scriptures, was then preeminent, and has probably never since been equalled.

"I have sent the holy father Domnium certain commentaries of mine on the twelve prophets, and on the four books of kings, which, if you choose to read, you will have proof how difficult it is to understand the divine Scripture, and especially the prophets."

T. i. Ep. xlix. n. 4, col. 234.
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"These tilings have I lightly touched upon, that you may understand that you cannot make your way into the holy Scriptures without having some one to go before you, and to show you the road. I say nothing of grammarians, rhetoricians, geometricians, logicians . . . whose knowledge is of great use to mankind. But I will come to the inferior arts, such as are exercised not so much by the reason as by the hand. . . . Even these artisans cannot become what they desire without the help of a teacher:

Quod medicorum est
Promittunt medici, tractant fabrilia fabri.

The science of the Scriptures is the only one which all persons indiscriminately claim as theirs:

Scribiraus indocti, doctique poemata passim.

This the babbling old woman, this the doating old man, this the wordy sophist, take upon themselves; tear to tatters; teach before they have themselves learned. Some weighing out long words, with uplifted eyebrow talk philosophy, to a crowd of young women, concerning (or, out of) the sacred writings. Others, shame on them! learn from women what to teach men; and as if this were not bad enough, they, with a certain facility of words, or rather effrontery, expound to others what they do not understand themselves. I speak not of those who, like myself, coming by chance to the study of the Scriptures after that of secular learning, and by their eloquent language pleasing the popular ear, fancy that which they utter to be the law of God, not deigning to learn what the prophets and what the Apostles thought, but they accommodate to their interpretation the most incongruous passages, as if it were something great, instead of being a most faulty mode of teaching, to distort sentences, and to force the reluctant Scriptures to their own wishes."

Ib. Ep. liii. ad Paulin. n. 7, col. 273.
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Commenting on Ecclesiastes 1:9, he says:

"This is also to be noted, that all the words of (Scripture) are weighty, and are learned with great labor; and this against those who fancy that the knowledge of Scripture comes to them whilst they remain idle and are making resolutions (or, vows)."

T. iii. in Ecclesiastes col. 389.
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"There is not an art to be acquired without a teacher ; this (the interpretation of Scripture) is forsooth so mean and easy, as not to need one."

T. iii. in Ecclesiastes col. 411.
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"Neither let them (sectarians) feel satisfied with themselves, if they seem to themselves to affirm what they say from portions of the Scriptures, since even the devil spoke some things out of the Scriptures; and the Scriptures consist not in being read, but in being understood."

T. ii. adv. Luciferi. n. 27, col. 201-2.
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St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

"The Holy Scriptures themselves, which exhort to believe great truths before understanding them, cannot profit you unless you understand them. For all heretics who acknowledge their authority, seem to themselves to follow after them, whereas they do rather follow after their own errors, and are heretics through this, not because they despise them, but because they understand them not rightly."

T. ii. Ep. cxx. Consent, n. 13, p. 524.
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"So great is the depth of the Christian writings, that I might daily advance in them, if, from earliest youth, even to decrepit old age, I were to endeavor, in the midst of leisure, with the most intense application, and with greater talents, to learn them alone: not that, with so great difficulty, may one attain to those things in them which are necessary to salvation; but when one has therein acquired that faith without which he cannot live piously and uprightly, so many things, and those veiled by so many folds of mystery, remain for those who advance further; and so great a depth of wisdom lies hidden, not merely in the words whereby those things are expressed, but also in the things to be understood; that to the oldest, the most acute, the most ardent in thirst after knowledge, there happens what that same Scripture has somewhere, "When man hath done, then shall he begin." (Ecclesiastes 18:6).

T. ii. Ep. cxxxvii. Volusiano, n. 3, col. 601.
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"For, neither have heresies, and certain perverse doctrines, which ensnare souls and cast them headlong into Hell, sprung up, but by the good Scriptures being ill understood, and what is therein badly understood is rashly and boldly asserted. Wherefore, my beloved, things which we are but as little children in comprehending, let us hearken to with very great caution, and with a pious heart, and, as the Scripture says, with trembling, adhere to this sound rule, to rejoice over whatsoever we are able to understand in accordance with the faith wherewith we have been imbued, as over our food; but as to whatsoever we may not, as yet, be able to understand in accordance with the sound rule of faith, to put aside all doubt, and to defer to some other time the understanding of it; that is, even though we know not what it means, to have no doubt whatever but that it is good and true. . . . Far be also from me (your pastor) all vain presumption, if I would have my conversation as a sound (teacher) in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

T. iii. Tract, xviii. in Joan. Evang. n. 1, col. 1883-4.
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"All these most silly heretics, who wish to be called Christians, try to give a colorable appearance to their wild figments, which the sense of mankind uttertly abhors, under cover of that gospel sentence, where Christ says, "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot hear them now." (John 16:12); as if these were the very things which the Apostles could not then bear. . . . These men the Apostle foreseeing in the Holy Spirit, says: "For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, they will, [gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.]" (2 Timothy 4:3,4)

T. iii. Tract, xcvii. in Joan. Evang. n. 3, 4, col. 2343.
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"No one can, in any way, justly attribute to the holy authorities of the divine books, the errors, so numerous and various, of heretics, though they all try to defend their own false and fallacious opinions out of the same Scriptures."

T. viii. l. 1, De Trinit. n. 6 (al. 3), col. 1159.
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"If the Church was, at that time, no more, because sacrilegious heretics were received (by her) without baptism, and this was followed as the universal custom, whence did Donatus make his appearance? from what land did he spring forth? out of what sea did he emerge? from what sky did he fall? We, therefore, as I had begun to remark, are safe in the communion of that Church, throughout the whole of which that is now done which, both before Agrippinus, and between Agrippinus and Cyprian, was similarly done throughout the whole of it."

T. ix. l. iii. Contr. Donatist. de Baptis. n. 3 (al. 2), col. 199.
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St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444), Egyptian; bishop, theologian and Doctor of the Church. He succeeded Theophilus in the patriarchal see of Alexandria, in A.D. 412, and was the great champion of orthodoxy against Nestorius, against whom the general council of Ephesus was called, in A.D. 431 and in which St. Cyril presided.

"He (John of Antioch) grieves all the bishops, both in the east and in the west, (saying) that the word concerning Christ is not orthodox, but perverted. But it suffices for a demonstration and refutation of these things, that they have never been said by anyone in the churches, as they are set down in the expositions of this man." (*)

Ad Clerum C.P. col. 333, t. iii. Labb. Concil
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(*) Authors note: St. Cyril of Alexandria speaks frequently of the difficulty and obscurity of Scripture:

"How profound is the word, and obscure the sentence of the law! Because it is enigmatical, and a scarcely visible shadowing-forth, as it were, of subtile and fine-drawn (thin) thoughts."

T i. De Ador. in Sp. et Ver. p. 616
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Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458), Greek; an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria (A.D. 423-457). He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms. His friendship for Nestorius embroiled him, for a time, with his great contemporary, St. Cyril of Alexandria.

Having named three different opinions of writers hostile to the inspiration of the Canticle of Canticles, he asserts its inspiration as follows:

"It behooved these men to be conscious how very much wiser, and more spiritual than they, are the blessed fathers, who ranked this book amongst the divine writings, and who placed it in the canon as a spiritual work, and pronounced it worthy of the Church."

[He then gives the story, or legend, of Esdras, and returns to his first argument, referring to Eusebius, Origen, Cyprian, Basil, and others of the fathers, as having commented on or quoted from this book, as sacred Scripture, and adds:]

"Wherefore let us consider whether it be just, that rejecting so many and so great men, and contemning the most Holy Spirit Himself, we follow our private opinions, not attending to that excellent saying, "The thoughts of mortal men are fearful, and their counsels uncertain." (Wisdom 9:14) (*)

T. ii. Proleg. in Cant. Cant pp. 3-5.
He refers also to Romans 1:21; Acts 5:29
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(*) Some critics have doubted of the genuineness of this work, but its authenticity is vindicated in the (Proleg. t. i. De Vita et Script. Theod. p. 34-7). Theodoret notices at p. 19 of the same treatise, that amongst the Jews the Canticle of Canticles was forbidden to be read but by persons of mature age.

"Were it an easy thing for all men to explain the oracles of the divine prophets, and, passing beyond the letter that is seen, to penetrate into its depths, and to attain to (catch) the hidden pearl of the sense, it might perhaps be justly thought a superfluous task to consign to writing an interpretation of them; all men being able, by the mere perusal, to attain without difficulty to the prophetic meaning (mind). But as, though we all have the same nature, yet have we not all received equal knowledge; for, "To each one", he says, "is given the manifestation of the Spirit unto profit; and to one, indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom, etc." (1 Corinthians 12:7-9).

T. ii. Proaem. in Interpr. Daniel, pp. 1053-4.
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Pope St. Celestine I, (unknown - A.D. 432), deacon and pope, a Roman in the region of Campania; pope from A.D. 422 to 432, he lived for a while at Milan while actively condemning the Nestorians and Pelagians. He was a zealous defender of orthodoxy.

"Justly does the blame touch us, if by silence we foster error; therefore let such men be corrected; let them not have liberty to speak at their pleasure. Let novelty cease, if the matter be so, to molest antiquity; let restlessness cease to trouble the peacefulness of the churches."

Ad Episc. Gall. col. 1612, t. ii. Labb. Concil.
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Capreolus of Carthage; (c. A.D. late 4th century - A.D. 437), succeeded Aurelius as bishop of Carthage who is known principally as the author of three letters: an Epistula ad Ephesinam synodum addressed to the Council of Ephesus in 431, an Epistula ad Vitalem et Constantium, and an Epistula ad Theodosium Augustum, which reports the death of St. Augustine of Hippo to the emperor Theodosius.

"I, therefore, beseech your holiness (though I have the firmest confidence) that, by the help of God, the Catholic faith will be in all respects firmly established by means of so great a synod (Ephesus) of venerable priests, that, the Holy Spirit working within you, which Spirit, I am confident, will be present in your hearts in all that you do, you shake from you with the force of former authority these novel doctrines, unheard, until now, by ecclesiastical ears, and thus withstand new errors of whatsoever kind they may be; lest the same (errors) which the Church vanquished long ago, and which have sprung up again in these days, and which the authority of the apostolic chair, and the concordant judgment of the priesthood repressed, may, under the pretext of a second examination, seem to recover that voice which was long since quelled. For, should anything happen to be started recently, there needs examination, that it may either be approved as rightly spoken, or repudiated as deserving of condemnation; but matters concerning which judgment has already been passed, if a man suffer such to be called again into question, he will simply seem himself to doubt about the faith which he has hitherto held. Again, as an example to posterity: — that what is now defined relative to Catholic faith may be for ever firmly received, those matters which have already been defined by the Fathers, must be preserved inviolate. Since whoso would fain that what he has defined concerning the right ordering of faith should continue forever, must needs confirm his sentiments, not by his private authority, but also by the judgment of the more ancient (Fathers); so that, in this manner, proving that what he asserts is, both by the decisions of the ancients and of the moderns, the alone truth of the Catholic Church, a truth descending from the past ages even to the present, or our days, in simple purity and invincible authority, and that such truth he both utters, and teaches, and holds. . . . Cyril of Alexandria said, "Let the epistle that has been read from . . . Capreolus of Carthage, be inserted amongst the memorials of faith, containing, as it does, a clear opinion; for he wishes the ancient doctrines to be confirmed, but novel and absurd inventions to be condemned and cast aside." All the bishops exclaimed, "Such are the declarations of us all. This we all proclaim: this is the prayer of all."

Ep. ad Condi. Eph.jjp. 490, 491, t. ix. Gallandii.
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Author's note: Capeeolus of Carthage succeeded Aurelius in the see of Carthage, and in 431 sent his deputies to the council of Ephesus, with a letter, part of which is given in the text. It is in Gallandius, t. ix.

St. Vincent of Lérins (A.D. c.400-445), in Latin, Vincentius, a monastic presbyter and ecclesiastical writer in the island of Lérins, he was a man learned in the Holy Scriptures, and well instructed in the knowledge of the doctrines of the Church, with a view to overthrow the sects of the heretics. He composed in elegant and clear language a very powerful dissertation, which, concealing his own name, he entitled Peregrinus against Heretics.

"But some one will say, why then does Providence very often permit certain persons, distinguished in the Church, to broach novelties to Catholics? A befitting question, and such as deserves to be treated more carefully and fully; to which however I must reply, not by any fancy of my own, but by the authority of the divine law, and the evidence of a master in the Church. Let us, therefore, hear holy Moses, and let him teach us why learned men, and such as by reason of their grace of knowledge are called even prophets by the Apostle, be sometimes permitted to broach new dogmas, which the Old Testament is wont, in allegorical language, to denominate strange Gods, for this reason, to wit, that the opinions of these men are so observed by the heretics, as their Gods by the Gentiles. Blessed Moses, then, writes in Deuteronomy, "If there shalt arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or one who saith he hath seen a dream" (13), that is, a teacher placed in the Church, whose disciples, or hearers, fancy him to teach from some revelation. What then? "And he shall foretell a sign and wonder, and that shall come to pass which he spoke." It is plain that some great teacher or other is meant, and one of so great knowledge, who may seem capable of knowing not only things human, but also of foreseeing things above man's reach, such as, for the most part, their disciples vaunt Valentinus to have been, and Donatus, Photinus, Apollinaris, and others of this class. What follows? "And shall say to thee, let us go and follow strange Gods, which thou knowest not, and let us serve them." What are "strange Gods", but extraneous errors, which thou knewest not, that is, new and unheard of? "And let us serve them", that is, believe them, follow them. What is the conclusion? "Thou shalt not hearken, he saith, to the words of that prophet or dreamer." And why, I pray you, is not that forbidden by God to be taught, which is by God forbidden to be hearkened to? "Because", saith he, "the Lord your God trieth you, that it may be made manifest whether you love Him or not, in all your heart, and in all your soul." The reason is more clear than day, why Divine Providence sometimes suffers certain masters of the churches to preach certain new dogmas. "That the Lord your God", he saith, "may try you." And assuredly a great temptation it is, when he whom you reckon a prophet, a disciple of the prophets, a doctor and maintainer of the truth, whom you clung to with the highest veneration and love, suddenly introduces by stealth noxious errors, which you can neither quickly detect, whilst you are led by prejudice in favor of your old teacher, nor easily bring yourself to think it lawful to condemn, whilst hindered by affection for your old master.

[He illustrates the above by the examples of Nestorius, Photinus, and Apollinaris, and adds:]

Here it may be asked of me that I expound the errors of the men named above, that is, Nestorius, Apollinaris, and Photinus. But this does not pertain to the matter whereof we now treat; for it is our purpose, not to assail the errors of individual men, but to bring forward the examples of a few, whence that may be clearly and evidently demonstrated which Moses saith, namely, that if at any time any ecclesiastical teacher, yea and a prophet for interpreting the mysteries of the prophets, shall attempt to introduce any thing new into the Church, that Divine Providence suffers to happen for our trial."

Adv. Hæres. n. xi. xii.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 379-381

The same subject as continued at n. xvii.

"We said then in what is gone before, that the error of a master was a people's trial, and the greater the trial, the greater the learning of him that erred, which we established, first by the authority of Scripture, afterwards by examples ecclesiastical; by commemorating, that is, those men who at one time were accounted as of sound faith, yet at last fell into some alien sect, or themselves established a heresy of their own. A subject assuredly of great moment, and profitable to be learned, and needful to be remembered, and which we must again and again illustrate and inculcate by weighty instances: that all true Catholics may know that they ought with the Church to receive doctors, not with doctors to forsake the faith of the Church. But I am of this opinion, that although we are able to bring forward many as examples of this kind of temptation, yet there is almost none that can be compared with this temptation of Origen, in whom there was so much that was so excellent, so singular, so wonderful, that in the beginning any would at once have decided that faith might be given to any assertion of his. For if life procures authority, etc.

[Having drawn a glowing picture of Origen, he adds:]

And yet this very Origen, great and eminent as he was, too presumptuously abusing the grace of God, indulging too much his own wit, trusting himself as sufficient, slighting the ancient simplicity of the Christian religion, presuming that he was wiser than all others, contemning the traditions of the Church and the teachings of the ancients, interpreting certain chapters of the Scriptures in a new fashion, deserved that of him also the Church of God should say, "If there shall arise in the midst of thee a prophet;" and, a little after, "Thou shalt not hearken to the words of that prophet;" and again, "Because the Lord your God trieth you, whether you love Him or not."

[He then cites Tertullian as another example, and adds:]

Such being the case, he is a true and genuine Catholic who loves the truth of God, and the Church, and the body of Christ; who prefers not anything before the religion of God, nothing before the Catholic faith, not any man's authority, not love, not wit, not eloquence, not philosophy, but despising all these, and in faith abiding fixed and stable, whatsoever he knoweth that the Catholic Church held universally of old, that alone he decideth is to be held and believed by him; but whatsoever he shall perceive to be introduced later, new and not before heard of, by some one man, besides all, or contrary to all the saints, let him know that it pertains not to religion, but rather to temptation."

Ib. n. xx.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 381-382

"Here perhaps some one may ask, whether heretics also use the testimonies of divine Scripture? Assuredly they use them, and vehemently indeed; for you may see them fluttering through each several volume of the holy law, through the books of Moses, through those of Kings, through the Psalms, through the Apostles, through the Gospels, through the prophets. For whether amongst their own, or amongst strangers, whether in private or in public, whether in their discourses or in their books, whether in convivial meetings or in the streets, nothing ever scarcely do they bring forward of their own, which they do not also try to shadow with words of Scripture. Head the tracts of Paul of Samosata, of Priscillian, Eunomius, Jovinian, and of the rest of such pests; and you will behold a vast heap of examples, hardly a page omitted which is not painted and colored with sentences from the Old or New Testament. But the more covertly they lurk under the shadows of the divine law, the more are they to be avoided and dreaded. For they know that their foul savors would not soon be pleasing to any scarcely, if they were exhaled barely and without admixture, and they therefore sprinkle them with the perfume, as it were, of God's word, that so he who would readily despise a human error, may not readily contemn the divine oracles. They therefore do, as they are wont who are preparing bitter draughts for little children, anointing the brims first with honey, that unwary youth, first tasting the sweetness, may not fear the bitterness. . . . Hence, in fine, the Saviour also cried out, "Take heed to yourself of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Matthew 7) What is "the clothing of sheep", but the sayings of the prophets and Apostles, which these men, with sheep-like sincerity, wove as fleeces, for that immaculate "Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world?" Who are "ravening wolves", but the wild and rabid senses (interpretations) of heretics, who ever infest the folds of the Church, and tear in pieces the flock of Christ, in whatever way they can. But that they may more craftily creep in upon the unsuspecting sheep, retaining the ferocity of wolves, they put off the appearance of wolves, and shroud themselves with sentences from the divine law, as with certain fleeces, that when one first feels the softness of the wool, he may not dread the sharpness of their teeth. But what says the Saviour? "By their fruits shall ye know them." That is, when they shall begin, not now only to bring forward these divine words, but also to expound — no longer to shoot them forth, but also to interpret them — then that bitterness, then that sharpness, then that rage, will be perceived; then that new poison will be exhaled; then will the profane novelties be laid open; then may you first see "the hedge broken", then "the bounds of the fathers transferred;" then the Catholic faith slaughtered; then the ecclesiastical dogma torn in pieces. Such were they whom the Apostle Paul smites in his second epistle to the Corinthians, "For such false apostles", he saith, "are deceitful workmen, transfiguring themselves into the Apostles of Christ?" (2 Corinthians 9:13) What is "transfiguring themselves into Apostles of Christ?" The Apostles alleged examples from the divine law — they likewise alleged them; the Apostles alleged the authorities of the Psalms — they likewise alleged them; the Apostles alleged sentences of the prophets, and still they also alleged them. But when those things which were alleged alike, began not to be interpreted alike, then were the simple discerned from the crafty, then the sincere from the counterfeit, then the upright from the perverse — then, in fine, the true apostles from the false. "And no wonder," he says, "for Satan himself transfigureth himself into an angel of light: therefore it is no great thing, if his ministers be transfigured as the ministers of justice." (2 Corinthians 11:14,15) Therefore, according to the teaching of the Apostle Paul, as often as either false apostles or false prophets, or false doctors, allege sentences from the divine law by which, ill-interpreted, they may endeavor to establish their own errors, there is no doubt but that they follow the crafty devices of their author; which he assuredly never would have invented, but that he knew full well that there is no readier way to deceive, than where the fraudulency of nefarious error is covertly introduced, that there the authority of the words of God be pretended (or, held out). But some one may say, whence is it proved that the devil useth to allege examples out of the divine law? Let him read the Gospels, wherein it is written, "Then the devil took him up, etc." (St. Matthew 4:5,6) What will he not do to poor weak men, he who assailed the Lord of majesty Himself with testimonies of the Scriptures? "If", says he, "Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down." Why so? "For it is written", quoth he. The doctrine of this place is to be by us diligently attended to and borne in mind, that, by so notable an example of Gospel authority, we may in nowise doubt, when we see any allege the apostolic or prophetic words against the Catholic faith, that the devil speaks by these men. . . . But what, finally, saith he? "If", he says, "Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down." That is, Thou wishest to be the Son of God, and to receive the inheritance of the kingdom of Heaven, cast Thyself down, that is, cast Thyself down from the doctrine and tradition of this lofty Church, which also is reputed to be the temple of God. And if any interrogate any one of the heretics who is persuading him to these things, whence doest thou prove, whence doest thou teach, that I ought to cast aside the universal and ancient faith of the Catholic Church? Straightway he (answers), "For it is written." And forthwith he sets forth a thousand testimonies, a thousand examples, a thousand authorities, from the law, from the psalms, from the Apostles, from the prophets, by which, interpreted in a new and evil manner, the unhappy soul may be cast headlong from the Catholic citadel into the deep abyss of heresy. . . . But some one may say, if both the devil and his disciples, whereof some are false apostles and false prophets and false teachers, and all utterly heretics, do use the divine sayings, sentences, and promises, what shall Catholic men, and sons of our mother the Church, do? In what way shall they in the holy Scriptures discern truth from falsehood ?"

Adv. Hæres. n. xxv. xxvi.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 382-386

Arnobius Junior, (flourished in the 5th century, A.D. c.460), also known as Arnobius the Younger, Christian priest or bishop in Gaul, author of a mystical and allegorical commentary on the Psalms, first published by Erasmus in 1522, and by him attributed to the elder Arnobius.

"He that shall be found without a ship in this great sea, "shall meet with the dragon which has been formed to make sport of them." (Psalms 130) . . . with those, that is, who repudiate the ships, and deliver themselves up, like animals, to the waves and depths of the law, without a master who is a Catholic, and who derives the tradition of the law from the Apostles. Wherefore, because they are without the Church.

Comm. in Ps. ciii. p. 295 ; t. viii. Bill. Maxim. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 386

Pope St. Gelasius I, (unknown - A.D. 496) was pope from A.D. 492 until his death in A.D. 496; prolific writer whose style placed him on the cusp between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. His reign was characterized by a call for strict orthodoxy.

"Is there anything which it is lawful for us to quash of those things which have been condemned by the venerable fathers? Why is it that we are so exceedingly on our guard, that the ruinous doctrine of any heresy that has once been cast aside, may not again strive to be brought under a second examination? If we attempt to restore the things which by our forefathers have been taken cognizance of, discussed, and refuted, do not we ourselves set an example — which God forefend, and which the Catholic Church will never permit — to all the enemies of truth to rise up against us? Where is that which is written, "Thou shalt not go beyond the bounds of thy fathers;" and, "Ask thy fathers, and they will declare to thee and thy elders, and they will tell thee. (Deuteronomy 32) Why, therefore, do we go beyond the things defined by our forefathers; or why suffice they not for us? If, being ignorant on any point, we wish for instruction, as to each of the points which, by the orthodox fathers and elders, have been enjoined, either as to be avoided, or as to be connected with Catholic truth, why are they not proved to have been decreed by these men? Are we wiser than they, or shall we be able, with stable firmness, to come to a clearer determination?

Ad. Honor. Dalm. Epis. col. 1172-3, t. iv. Labb. Concil.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 386-387



As Catholics, when we hear the term "the Word of God", we don't automatically think solely of the Scriptures. We think of both the Oral Tradition that has been passed down to us by the Apostles to our current bishops along with the written Scriptures that the Church canonized in A.D. 382 at the Council of Rome.

There are relatively few passages compared to all the passages in the Bible, that the Church requires a correct interpretation for. If you read the Scriptures at any Bible Study, you are more than welcome to draw from the Scriptures whatever you wish as far as your understanding or interpretation does not contradict any doctrinal teachings of the Church.



The Church's Scriptures on the private interpretation of the Scriptures:


If there is a problem with someone, we should first try to resolve it with their privately, but if they don't listen, ultimately we should bring it to the Church

15 "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Matthew 18:15-17

Peter tells us that some can interpret in Paul's writings incorrectly unto their own destruction.

15 As also our most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you: 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things: in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You, therefore, brethren, knowing these things before, take heed, lest being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own steadfastness.


2 Peter 3:15-17

Paul tells us in Corinthians that not all have the same calling but we have different vocations

28 And God indeed hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors. 29 Are all Apostles? are all prophets? are all doctors?"

1 Corinthians 12:28, 29

We are all called to proclaim the Gospel to the world

15 And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. 18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."


Romans 10:15-18

Paul calls us to a mature faith — one that is not persuaded by the cunning of wicked men, who create their own gospel and replace theirs, with Jesus'

11 And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.


Ephesians 5:11-14

Pharisees challenged whether new Christians should be circumcised according to the Old Testament Law of Moses, but after Peter's decision, the assembly kept silence.

1 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, reporting the conversion of the Gentiles, and they gave great joy to all the brethren. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up, and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses." 6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God who knows the heart bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us; 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." 12 And all the assembly kept silence,

Acts 15:1-12

The author of Hebrews encourages the faithful to obey their leaders who spoke of the Word

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith. . . . 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.


Hebrews 13:7, 17

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