Original Research

Theological reflection, divorced from the incarnational nature of the Christian faith, invalidates the Bible

Jennifer Slater
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6070 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6070 | © 2021 Jennifer Slater | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 April 2020 | Published: 12 March 2021

About the author(s)

Jennifer Slater, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

This article draws its inspiration from the famous excerpt of the 5th century Father and Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, Jerome, who firmly claims in his Commentary on Isaiah (Nn 1.2: CCL 73, 1–3) that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. By this exhortation he urged Christians to recognise the serious necessity to study the Word of God as it is not an optional luxury to be used and interpreted with tawdriness. The secret of this renowned biblical scholar was to adhere to a fundamental criterion, namely, to interpret the Holy Scriptures in harmony with the Roman Catholic Church’s magisterium, and thus no person is at liberty to interpret the scriptures alone and slip into self-righteous error. Jerome believed that the authentic interpretation of Scripture is harmonious with the faith of the (Catholic) Church and when ‘correctly attuned’, only then the reader is authorised to understand Sacred Scripture. Scripture is the foundation of theological truth and this article endeavours to disclose that when the bible is not perceived as an inexhaustible source of inspiration and guidance, it is left open for distasteful interpretations and becomes a recipe for scripture twisting. Relevant and engaging theology is biblically connected and when theological reflection is not embedded in the biblical narrative and contemporary life, Scripture is invalidated. Hence, Jerome cautioned: ‘[r]emain firmly attached to the traditional doctrine that you have been taught, so that you can preach according to right doctrine and refute those who contradict it’ (Eph 52, 7).

Contribution: The point of departure of this article is that for Christians Scripture is the foundation of theological truth. Its contribution lays in the art of authentic scripture interpretation and by so doing the scholar keeps trend with the Christian faith and precludes complacent error.


Keywords

Sacred Scripture; Sacred Tradition; magisterium; analogy of faith; literal sense; spiritual sense; interpretation

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