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BIBLE


543


BIBLE


MoMBRlTlus, SanctiMrium, I. 278 sqq.: Acta SS., June, IV, 74 sqq.: Catatogus codicum hagiogr. latin, in Bibliotheca Na- Honali Parisien., ed. Bollandists (Brussels. 1889). I, 520-523; Aringhi, Roma subterranca (Paris, 1659), II, 124; Dofourcq, -Etude sur les Gesta martwum romains (Paris, 19(X)), 123-126; De Rossi in Bull, delta Covimiss. archeol. communale di Roma (1890), 280-284; Armellini, Le chiese di Roma (Rome, 1891), ■804-806; Mardcchi, Basiligues et eglises de Rome (Rome, 1902), 344 sqq.

J. P. KiRSCH.

Bible, The, a collection of ^\Titings which the Church of God has solemnly recognized as inspired. The name is derived from the Greek expression to. §i§\la (the books), which came into use in the early centuries of Cliristianity to designate the whole sacred volume. In the Latin of the Middle Ages, the neuter plural form Bihlia (gen. bibliorum) gradually came to be regarded as a feminine singular noim {biblia, gen. biblicc), in which singular form the word has passed into the languages of the Western world. It means "The Book", by way of eminence, and therefore well sets forth the sacred character of our inspired literature. Its most important equivalents are: "the Divine Library" (Bibliotheca Divina), h'hich was employed by St. Jerome in the fourth century; "the Scriptures", "the Holy Scriptures" — terms which are derived from expressions found in the Bible itself; and "tlie Old ana New Testament", in which collective title, " the Old Testament " desig- nates the sacred books written before the coming of Our Lord, and " the New Testament " denotes the inspired writings composed since the coming of Christ.

It is a fact of history that in the time of Christ the Jews were in possession of sacred books, which differed widely from one another in subject, style, origin and scope, and it is also a fact that they re- garded all such writings as invested rt'ith a charac- ter which distinguished them from all other books. This was the Divine authority of every one of these books and of every part of each book. This belief of the Jews was confirmed by Our Lord and His Apostles; for they supposed its truth in their teach- ing, used it as a foundation of their doctrine, and intimately connected with it the religious system of which they were the foimders. The books thus approved were handed down to the Christian Church as the written record of Divine revelation before the i'oming of Christ. The truths of Christian revelation «ere made known to the Apostles either by Christ Himself or by the Holy Ghost. They constitute what is called the Deposit of Faith, to which nothing has been added since the Apostolic Age. Some of the truths were committed to writing under the inspira- tion of the Holy Ghost and have been handed do\vn to us in the books of the New Testament. Written originally to individu.al Churches or persons, to meet particular necessities, and accommodated as they all were to particular and existing circumstances, these books were gradually received by the universal Church as inspired, and with the sacred books of the Jews constitute the Bible.

In one respect, therefore, the Bible is a twofold literature, made up of two distinct collections which correspond with two successive and unequal periods of time in the history of man. The older of these collections, mostly WTitten in Hebrew, corresponds with the many centuries during which the Jewish people enjoyed a national existence, and forms the Hebrew, or Old Testament, literature; the more recent collection, begun not long after Our Lord's ascension, and made up of Greek writings, is the Early Christian, or New Testament, literature. Yet, in another and deeper respect, the Biblical literature is pre-eminently one. Its two sets of writings are most closely con- nected with regard to doctrines revealed, facts re- corded, customs described, and even expressions used. Above all, both collections have one and the same religious purpose, one and the same inspired char-


acter. They form the two parts of a great organic whole the centre of which is the person and mission of Christ. The same Spirit exercised His mysterious hidden influence on the writings of both Testaments, and made of the works of those who lived before Our Lord an active and steady preparation for the New Testament dispensation which He was to in- troduce, and of the works of those who WTote after Him a real continuation and striking fulfilment of the old Covenant.

The Bible, as the inspired record of revelation, contains the word of God; that is, it contains those revealed trutlis which the Holy Ghost wishes to be transmitted in writing. However, all revealed truths are not contained in the Bible (see Tradition); neither is every truth in the Bible revealed, if by revelation is meant the manifestation of hidden truths which could not otherwise be known. Much of the Scripture came to its writers through the channels of ordinary knowledge, but its sacred char- acter and Divine authority are not limited to those parts which contain revelation strictly so termed. The Bible not only contains the word of God; it is the word of God. The primary autlior is the Holy Ghost, or, as it is commonly expressed, the human authors wrote under the influence of Divine inspira- tion. It was declared by the Vatican Council (Sess. Ill, c. ii) that the .sacred and canonical character of Scripture would not be sufficiently explained by saying that the books were composed by human diligence and then approved by the Church, or that they contained revelation without error. They are sacred and canonical "because, having been written by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author, and as such have been handed down to the Church". The inerrancy of the Bible follows as a consequence of this Divine authorship. Wher- ever the sacred writer makes a statement as his own, that statement is the word of God and infallibly true, whatever be the subject-matter of the statement.

It will be seen, therefore, that though the inspira- tion of any writer and the sacred character of his work be antecedent to its recognition by the Church yet we are dependent upon the Church for our knowl- edge of the existence of this inspiration. She is the appointed witness and guardian of revelation. From her alone we know what books belong to the Bible. At the Council of Trent she enumerated the books which must be considered "as sacred and canonical". They are the seventy-two books found in Catholic editions, forty-five in the Old Testament and twenty- seven in the New. Protestant copies usually lack the seven books (viz: Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiastieus, Baruch, and I, II Machabees) and parts of books (viz: Esther, x, 4-xvi, 24, and Daniel iii, 24-90; xiii, 1-xiv, 42) which are not found in the Jewish editions of the Old Testament.

The Bible is plainly a literature, that is, an impor- tant collection of \\Titings which were not composed at once and did not proceed from one hand, but rather were spread over a considerable period of time and are traceable to different authors of varying literary excellence. A.s a literature, too, the Bible bears throughout the distinct impress of the circum- stances of place and time, methods of composition, etc., in which its various parts came into existence, and of these circumstances careful account must be taken, in the interests of accurate scriptural inter- pretation. As a literature, our sacred books have been transcribed during many centuries by all man- ner of copyists to the ignorance and carelessness of many of whom they still bear witness in the shape of numerous textual errors, which, however, but .seldom interfere seriously with the primitive reading of any important dogmatic or moral passage of Holy Writ.

In respect of antiquity, the Biblical literature be- longs to the same group of ancient literature as the