Denzinger EN 3825

3825 Dz 2292 But that the Synod of Trent wished the Vulgate to be the Latin version "which all should use as authentic," applies, as all know, to the Latin Church only, and to the public use of Scripture, and does not diminish the authority and force of the early texts. For at that time no consideration was being given to early texts, but to the Latin versions which were being circulated at that time, among which the Council decreed that that version was rightly to be preferred which was approved by the long use of so many centuries within the Church. So this eminent authority of the Vulgate, or, as it is expressed,authenticity,was established by the Council not especially for critical reasons, but rather because of its authorized use in the Church continued through the course of so many centuries; and by this use it is demonstrated that this text, as the Church has understood and understands, in matters of faith and morals is entirely free of error, so that, on the testimony and confirmation of the Church herself, in discussions, quotations, and meetings it can be cited safely and without danger of error; and accordingly such authenticity is expressed primarily not by the term criticalbut rather juridical.Therefore, this authority of the Vulgate in matters of doctrine does not at all prevent---rather it almost demands today---this same doctrine being called upon for help, whereby the correct meaning of Sacred Scripture may daily be made clearer and be better explained. And not even this is prohibited by the decree of the Council of Trent, namely, that for the use and benefit of the faithful in Christ and for the easier understanding of divine works translations be made into common languages; and these, too, from the early texts, as we know has already been praiseworthily done with the approval of the authority of the Church in many regions.

The Literal and Mystical Sense of Holy Scripture *

[From the same Encyclical, "Divino afflante Spiritu,", September 30, 1943]

3826 Dz 2293 Well equipped with a knowledge of ancient languages and with the help of critical scholarship, let the Catholic exegete approach that task which of all those imposed upon him is the highest, namely, to discover and set forth the true meaning of the Sacred Scriptures. In this work let interpreters keep in mind that their greatest care should be to discern and define what the so-called literalsense of the language of the Bible is. Let them bring out this literalmeaning of the words with all diligence through a knowledge of languages, employing the aid of the context and of comparison with similar passages; indeed, all these are customarily used for assistance in the interpretation of profane writers also, so that the mind of the author may become quite clear. Moreover, let the exegetes of Sacred Scriptures, mindful of the fact that they are dealing with the divinely inspired word, no less diligently take into account the explanations and declarations of the magisteriumof the Church, and likewise the explanation given by the Holy Fathers, and also the "analogy of faith," as Leo XIII in the Encyclical letter, Providentissimus Deus, very wisely notes.* Indeed, let them see to this with special zeal, that they explain not only those matters which are of concern to history, archaeology, philology, and other such disciplines as we grieve to say is done in certain commentaries, but, after bringing in such matters opportunely, insofar as they can contribute to exegesis, point out especially what is the theological doctrine on matters of faith and morals in the individual books and texts, so that this explanation of theirs may not only help teachers of theology to set forth and confirm the dogmas of faith, but also be of assistance to priests in clarifying Christian doctrine to the people, and finally serve all the faithful to lead holy lives worthy of a Christian.

3827 When they have given such an interpretation, especially, as we have said, theological interpretation, let them effectively silence those who assert that with difficulty do they find anything by way of Biblical commentary to raise the mind to God, nourish the soul, and promote the interior life, and declare that recourse must be had to a certain spiritual and so-called mystical interpretation. How far from rightly they profess this the experience of many shows, who frequently considering and meditating upon the word of God, perfect their souls, and are moved by a strong love toward God; and this is clearly proved by the everlasting institution of the Church and the admonitions of the most eminent Doctors.

3828 Surely, all spiritual meaning is not excluded from Sacred Scripture. For what was said and done in the Old Testament, was most wisely so ordered and disposed by God that past events in a spiritual manner presignified what would take place in the new covenant of grace. So the exegete, just as he should find and expound the so-called literalsignificance of the words, which the sacred writer intended and expressed, so also he should the spiritual significance, provided it can be rightly established that it was given by God. For God alone could know this spiritual significance and reveal it to us. Indeed, the divine Savior Himself indicates such a sense to us in the Holy Gospels and teaches us; the apostles, also, imitating the example of the Master, in speaking and writing profess this; so does the teaching handed down by the Church; finally, the ancient practice of the liturgy declares, wherever that famous pronouncement can rightly be applied: The law of praying is the law of believing. So, let Catholic exegetes make clear and set forth this spiritual sense, intended and ordained by God Himself, with that diligence which the dignity of the divine Word demands; but let them beware religiously lest they proclaim other transferred meanings of things as the genuine sense of Sacred Scripture.

Kinds of Literature in Holy Scripture *

[From the same Encyclical, "Divino afflante Spiritu," September 30, 1943]

3829 Dz 2294 Therefore, let the interpreter with all care and without neglect of the light which the more recent investigations have shed, strive to discern what the real character and condition of life of the sacred writer were; in what age he flourished; what sources he used whether written or oral, and what forms of expression he employed. Thus he will be able to know better who the sacred writer was, and what he wished to indicate by his writing. For it escapes no one that the highest norm of interpretation is that by which what the writer intends to say is perceived and defined, as St. Athanasius advises: "Here, as it is fitting to do in all other passages of divine Scripture, we observe that it must be accurately and faithfully considered on what occasion the Apostle has spoken; what is the person and what is the subject on which he has written, lest anyone ignorant of these things, or understanding something else besides them, wander from the true meaning."*

3830 But what the literal sense is in the words and writings of the old oriental authors is very often not as clear as it is among the writers of our age. For what they wish to signify by words is not determined by the laws of grammar or philology alone, nor by the context of the passage alone; the interpreter should by all means return mentally, as it were, to those remote ages of the Orient, in order that rightly assisted by the aid of history, archaeology, ethnology, and of other disciplines, he may discern and perceive what so-called literary genres the writers of that age sought to employ and in fact did employ. For the old Orientals, to express what they had in mind, did not always use the same forms and the same modes of speaking as we do today, but rather those which were accepted for use among men of their own times and localities. What these were, the exegete cannot determine, as it were, in advance, but only by an accurate investigation of the ancient literatures of the Orient. Furthermore, such investigation carried on within the last ten years with greater care and diligence than before, has shown more clearly what forms of speaking were employed in those ancient times, whether in describing matters in poetry, or in proposing norms and laws of life, or finally in narrating the facts and events of history. This same investigation has also proven this clearly, that the people of Israel were especially pre-eminent among the rest of the ancient nations of the Orient in writing history properly, both because of the antiquity and the faithful recountal of events; which indeed, is surely the effect of divine inspiration, and the result of the special purpose of biblical history which pertains to religion. Indeed, let no one who has a right understanding of Biblical inspiration, be surprised that among the Sacred Writers, as among the other ancients, certain definite ways of explaining and narrating are found; certain kinds of idioms especially appropriate to Semitic languages, so calledapproximations,and certain hyperbolic methods of speaking, yes, sometimes even paradoxes by which events are more firmly impressed upon the mind. For none of those methods of speaking is foreign to the Sacred Scriptures which among ancient peoples, especially among Orientals, human speech customarily used to express its thought, yet on this condition, that the kind of speaking employed be not at odds with the sanctity and truth of God, just as with his usual perspicacity the Angelic Doctor has noted in the following words: "In Scripture divine matters are made known to us in the manner we customarily employ.'' * For just as the substantial Word of God was made like man in all things "without sin," * so also the words of God, expressed in human language, in all things have been made like human speech, without error,. which Saint John Chrysostom has already extolled with highest praise as the(greek text deleted)or, condescension of a provident God; and which he has asserted * again and again is the case in the Sacred Scriptures. Therefore, let the Catholic exegete, in order to satisfy the present day needs of Biblical matters, in explaining Sacred Scripture, and in showing and proving it free of all error, prudently use this aid, to inquire how the form of expression and the kind of literature employed by the Sacred writer, contribute to a true and genuine interpretation; and let him be convinced that this part of his office cannot be neglected without great harm to Catholic exegesis. For not uncommonly---to touch upon one thing only---when some propose by way of rebuke that the Sacred Authors have strayed away from historical truth, or have not reported events accurately, it is found to be a question of nothing other than the customary natural methods of the ancients in speaking and narrating, which in the mutual intercourse among men were regularly employed, and in fact were employed in accord with a permissible and common practice. Therefore, intellectual honesty requires that when these matters are found in divine speech which is expressed for man in human words, they be not charged more with error than when they are uttered in the daily use of life. Therefore, by a knowledge and accurate appraisal of the modes and skills of speaking and writing among the ancients, many problems will be possible of solution, which are raised against the truth and historical trustworthiness of the divine Scripture; and no less fittingly will such study contribute to a fuller and clearer understanding of the mind of the Sacred Writer.

The Purposes of Matrimony *

[Decree of the Holy Office, April 1, 1944]

3838 Dz 2295 Certain publications concerning the purposes of matrimony, and their interrelationship and order, have come forth within these last years which either assert that the primary purpose of matrimony is not the generation of offspring, or that the secondary purposes are not subordinate to the primary purpose, but are independent of it.

In these works different primary purposes of marriage are designated by other writers, as for example: the complement and personal perfection of the spouses through a complete mutual participation in life and action; mutual love and union of spouses to be nurtured and perfected by the psychic and bodily surrender of one's own person; and many other such things.

In the same writings a sense is sometimes attributed to words in the current documents of the Church (as for example, primary, secondary purpose), which does not agree with these words according to the common usage by theologians.

This revolutionary way of thinking and speaking aims to foster errors and uncertainties, to avoid which the Most Eminent and Very Reverend Fathers of this supreme Sacred Congregation, charged with the guarding of matters of faith and morals, in a plenary session, on Wednesday, the 28th of March, 1944, when the question was proposed to them "Whether the opinion of certain recent persons can be admitted, who either deny that the primary purpose of matrimony is the generation and raising of offspring, or teach that the secondary purposes are not essentially subordinate to the primary purpose, but are equally first and independent," have decreed that the answer must be: In the negative.

Millenarianism (Chiliasm) *

[Decree of the Holy Office, July 21, 1944]

3839 Dz 2296 In recent times on several occasions this Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office has been asked what must be thought of the system of mitigated Millenarianism, which teaches, for example, that Christ the Lord before the final judgment, whether or not preceded by the resurrection of the many just, will come visibly to rule over this world. The answer is: The system of mitigated Millenarianism cannot be taught safely.

The Presence of Christ in the Mysteries of the Church *

[From the Encyclical, "Mediator Dei," November 20, 1947]

3840 Dz 2297 In every liturgical act there is present together with the Church her divine Founder; Christ is present in the august Sacrifice of the altar, not only in the person of His minister, but especially in the species of the Eucharist; He is present in the sacraments through His power which He transfuses into them as instruments for effecting sanctity; finally, He is present in the praises and supplications directed to God, according to these words: "For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18,20). . . .

3855 Therefore, the liturgical year, which the piety of the Church fosters and follows, is no cold and indifferent representation of those things which belong to times of the past, or a simple and bare recollection of things of an earlier age. But rather, it is Christ Himself, who perseveres in His Church, and who is pursuing the way of His great mercy; indeed, when He made His way through this mortal life doing good, * He entered upon it with this purpose, that His mysteries might penetrate the minds of men and that through them in some way they might live; and these mysteries surely are present and operate continuously not in that uncertain and obscure manner about which certain more recent writers babble, but in the manner that is taught us by the Church; since, according to the opinion of the Doctors of the Church, the examples of Christian perfection are pre-eminent, and the sources of divine grace, because of the merits and deprecations of Christ and by their effect endure in us, although they exist individually in their own way according to each one's own character for the sake of our salvation.

The Full Notion of Liturgy *

[From the same Encyclical, "Mediator Dei," November 20, 1947]

3841 Dz 2298 The sacred Liturgy, then, constitutes the public worship which our Redeemer, the Head of the Church, has shown to the heavenly Father; and which the society of the faithful in Christ attribute to their Founder, and through Him to the eternal Father; and, to sum up briefly, it constitutes the public worship of the mystical body of Jesus Christ, namely, the Head and its members.

3843 Therefore, they wander entirely away from the true and full notion and understanding of the Sacred Liturgy, who consider it only as an external part of divine worship, and presented to the senses; or as a kind of apparatus of ceremonial proprieties; and they no less err who think of it as a mere compendium of laws and precepts, by which the ecclesiastical Hierarchy bids the sacred rites to be arranged and ordered.

The Relationship Between the Ascetic Life and the Piety of the Liturgy *

[From the same Encyclical, "Mediator Dei," November 30, 1947]

3846 Dz 2299 Therefore in the spiritual life there can be no difference and no conflict between that divine action which infuses grace into souls to perpetuate our redemption, and the kindred and laborious work of man which should not render * God's gift in vain; and likewise between the efficacy of the external rite of the sacraments, which arises ex opere operato (from an accomplished task), and a well deserving act on the part of those who partake of and accept the sacraments; which act indeed we call Opus operantis (the work of the worker); and in like manner between public supplications and private prayers; between the right way of acting and the contemplation of supernal things; between the ascetic life and the piety of the Liturgy; and, finally, between the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical Hierarchy and that legitimate magisterium and that power, which are properly called sacerdotal, and which are exercised in the sacred ministry.

For serious cause the Church urges that those who serve the altar as an intrusted duty, or who have entered an institution of the religious life devote * themselves at stated times to pious meditation, to diligent self examination and criticism, and other spiritual exercises, since they are appointed in a special way to the liturgical functions of regularly performing the Sacrifice and of offering due praise. Without doubt liturgical prayer, since it is the public supplication of the illustrious Spouse of Jesus Christ, stands out with greater excellence than private prayers. But this greater excellence by no means indicates that these two kinds of prayer are different from and at odds with each other. For, since they are animated by one and the same zeal, they also come together and are united according to these words: "Christ is all and in all" (
Col 3,11), and strive for the same purposes, until Christ be formed in us.*

The Participation of the Faithful in the Priesthood of Christ *

[From the same Encyclical, "Mediator Dei," November 20, 1947]

3849 Dz 2300 It is expedient that all the faithful in Christ understand that it is their supreme duty and dignity to participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. . . .

Yet, because the faithful in Christ participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, they do not on this account enjoy sacerdotal power. It is indeed quite necessary that you keep this clearly before the eyes of your flocks.

3850 For there are those . . . who today revive errors long since condemned, and teach that in the New Testament the name "priesthood" includes all who have been cleansed by the water of baptism; and likewise that that precept by which Jesus Christ at the Last Supper entrusted to the apostles the doing of what He Himself had done, pertained directly to the entire Church of the faithful in Christ; and that hence, and hence only, has arisen the hierarchical priesthood. Therefore, they imagine that the people enjoy true sacerdotal power, but that the priest acts only by virtue of an office delegated by the community. So they believe that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is truly called a "concelebration," and they think that it is more expedient for priests standing together with the people to "concelebrate" than to offer the Sacrifice privately in the absence of the people.

It is superfluous to explain how captious errors of this kind contradict those truths which we have stated above, when treating of the rank which the priest enjoys in the mystical body of Christ. Yet we think that we must call this to mind namely, that the priest acts in place of the people only for this reason, that he plays the part of our Lord, Jesus Christ, insofar as He is the Head of all the members, and offers himself for them, and that for this reason he approaches the altar as a minister of Christ, inferior to Christ, but superior to the people.* The people, on the other hand, inasmuch as they do not in any way play the part of the divine Redeemer, and are not a conciliator between themselves and God, can by no means enjoy the sacerdotal right.

All this, indeed, is established by the certitude of faith; yet, furthermore, the faithful in Christ are also to be said to offer the divine victim, but in a different way.

3851 Now some of Our predecessors and doctors of the Church have declared this very clearly. "Not only," says Innocent III of immortal memory, "do the priests offer the Sacrifice, but all the faithful also; for what is specially fulfilled by the ministry of the priests, this is done collectively by the prayers of the faithful." * And it is pleasing to bring to bear on this subject at least one of the many statements of St. Robert Bellarmine: "The Sacrifice," he says, "is offered chiefly in the person of Christ. And so the oblation that follows the Consecration is a kind of attestation that the whole Church consents in the oblation made by Christ, and offers it at the same time with him." *

The rite and the prayers of the Eucharistic Sacrifice no less clearly point out and show that the oblation of the victim is performed by the priests together with the people. . . .

It is not surprising that the faithful of Christ are raised to such a dignity. For, by the waters of baptism, by the general title of Christian they are made members of the mystical body of Christ, the priest, and by the "character", as it were, imprinted upon their souls, they are assigned to divine worship; and so they participate in the priesthood of Christ Himself according to their condition. . . .

3852 But there is also a very profound reason why all Christians, especially those who are present at the altar, are said to offer the Sacrifice.

In this very important subject, lest insidious error arise, we should limit the word "offer" by terms of exact meaning. For that unbloody immolation, by which, when the words of consecration are uttered, Christ is made present on the altar in the state of a victim, is performed by the priest alone, because he bears the role of Christ, and not because he plays the role of the faithful in Christ. And so, because the priest places the victim upon the altar, he offers to God the Father, the same Victim by which he offers an oblation for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the good of the whole Church. But the faithful in Christ participate in this oblation in a restricted sense in their own fashion, and in a twofold manner, namely, because they offer the Sacrifice not only through the hands of the priest, but also, in a manner, together with him; indeed, because of this participation the oblation of the people is also referred to the liturgical worship.

Moreover, it is clear that the faithful in Christ offer the Sacrifice through the hands of the priest from this, that the minister at the altar plays the part of Christ, as of the Head, making His offering in the name of all His members, whereby indeed it happens that the whole Church is rightly said to offer the oblation of the Victim through Christ. But that the people together with the priest himself offer the Sacrifice is not established because of this, because the members of the Church, just as the priest himself, perform a visible liturgical rite, which belongs only to the minister divinely assigned to this; but for the reason that they join their prayer of praise, impetration, expiation, and thanksgiving with the prayers or intention of the priest, even of the High Priest Himself; so that in the very same oblation of the Victim, also according to an external rite by the priest, they may be presented to God, the Father. For the external rite must by its very nature manifest internal worship; but the Sacrifice of the New Law signifies that supreme allegiance by means of which the principal Offerer Himself, who is Christ, and together with Him and through Him all of His mystical members attend and venerate God with due honor.

The Material and Form of the Sacrament of Orders *

[Apostolic Constitution, "Sacramentum Ordinis," November 30, 1947]

3857 Dz 2301 1. The sacrament of orders instituted by Christ the Lord, by which spiritual power is handed down and grace is conferred to perform ecclesiastical duties properly, the Catholic faith professes to be one and the same for the universal Church. . . . And for these sacraments instituted by Christ the Lord in the course of the ages the Church has not, and could not substitute other sacraments, since, as the Council of Trent teaches, the seven sacraments of the New Law have all been instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord, and the Church has no power over the "substance of the sacraments," that is, over those things which, with the sources of divine revelation as witnesses, Christ the Lord Himself decreed to be preserved in a sacramental sign. . . .

3858 3. It is established moreover, among all that the sacraments of the New Law, as sensible and efficient signs of invisible grace, owe and signify the grace which they effect, and effect the grace which the, signify. Indeed the effects which should be produced and so signified by the sacred ordination of the diaconate, presbyterate, and episcopate namely, power and grace, are found to have been sufficiently signified in all the rites of the universal Church of different times and regions by the imposition of hands, and by the words that determine this. Furthermore, there is no one who does know that the Roman Church always considered valid the ordinations conferred in the Greek rite, without the handing over of the instruments, so that at the Council of Florence, in which the union of the Greeks with the Church of Rome was accomplished, it was not imposed on the Greeks that they change the rite of ordination, or that they insert in it the tradition of the instruments; rather, the Church wished that in the City itself (Rome) Greeks be ordained according to their own rite. From all this it is gathered that according to the mind of the Council of Florence the tradition of the instruments is not required for the substance and validity of this sacrament, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. But if, according to the will and prescription of the Church, the same should some day be held necessary for validity also, all would know that the Church is able even to change and to abrogate what she has established.

3859 4. Since these things are so, invoking divine light by Our supreme apostolic authority and certain knowledge We declare, and, according as there is need, decree, and determine that the matter of sacred orders of the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopate, and this alone, is the imposition of the hands; but that the form, and likewise alone, is the words which determine the application of this matter, by which the sacramental effects are signified with but one meaning, namely, the power of orders, and grace of the Holy Spirit, and which as such are accepted and applied by the Church. Hence it follows that in order to do away with all controversy and to preclude the way to anxieties of conscience, by Our Apostolic Authority We do declare, and, if ever it has been otherwise lawfully arranged, decide that the tradition of the instruments at least for the future is not necessary for the validity of the sacred orders of the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopate.

3860 5. But regarding the matter and form in the conferring of every order, by Our same supreme apostolic authority We decree and establish the following: In the ordination of deacons the matter is the one imposition of the bishop's hand, which occurs in the rite of that ordination. But the form consists of the words of the "Preface," of which the following are essential and so required for validity: "Send forth upon him, we beseech, O Lord, the Holy Spirit, by which for the work of faithfully performing your ministry he may be strengthened by the gift of Thy sevenfold grace." In the ordination of priests the matter is the first imposition of the bishop's hands which is done in silence, but there is no continuation of the same imposition by an extension of the right hand, nor the last to which these words are joined: "Receive the Holy Spirit: whose sins you shall forgive, etc." But the form consists of the words of the "preface," of which the following are essential and so required for validity: "Bestow, we beseech, almighty Father, upon this thy servant the dignity of the priesthood; renew in his vitals the spirit of sanctity, that he may obtain the gift of good merit acceptable to Thee, O God, and may by the example of his conversation introduce rigid judgment of morals." Finally, in the episcopal ordination or consecration the matter is the imposition of the hands by the consecrating bishop. But the form consists of the words of the "Preface," of which the following are essential and thus required for validity: "Fulfill in Thy priest the completion of Thy ministry, and adorned in the ornaments of all glorification sanctify him with the moisture of heavenly unguent." . . .

3861 6. That no occasion for doubt may be offered, we command that in any conferring of orders the imposition of hands be made by physically touching the head of the one to be ordained, although even the moral touch suffices for performing a sacrament validly. . . . The disposition of this Our Constitution does not have retroactive force.

The Time of the Documents of the Pentateuch, and the Literary Genre of the Eleven First Chapters of Genesis *

[Letter of the Secretary of the Biblical Commission to Cardinal Suhard, Archbishop of Paris, January 16, 1948]

3862 Dz 2302 Our Most Holy Father has decided to commit to the consideration of the Pontifical Biblical Commission two questions which were recently submitted to His Holiness on the sources of the Pentateuch and the historicity of the eleven first chapters of Genesis. These two questions, together with their doctrines and prayers, were examined most attentively by the Most Reverend Consultors and Most Eminent Cardinals assigned to the aforesaid Commission. At the end of their deliberations His Holiness has deigned to approve the response which follows, in audience on the 16th day of January, 1948, granted to the undersigned.

The Pontifical Biblical Commission with a joyful heart praises the sense of filial confidence which inspired this consultation, and desires to respond to it in a sincere effort to promote Biblical studies, since within the limits of the traditional doctrine of the Church the fullest freedom is granted them. This freedom is affirmed explicitly in the Encyclical, Divino afflante Spiritu, of the Supreme Pontiff, who is reigning gloriously, with these words: "The Catholic exegete, impelled by an active and strong love of his science, and sincerely devoted to Holy Mother Church, should by no means be kept from attacking difficult questions as yet unresolved, again and again, not only to refute what is raised in opposition by adversaries, but to strive also to find a solid explanation which is in faithful accord with the doctrine of the Church, namely with what has been taught about Sacred Scripture free of all errors, and also satisfies in due measure certain conclusions of the profane sciences.

But let all the other sons of the Church remember that the attempts of these strenuous workers in the vineyard of the Lord should be judged not only with an honest and just heart, but also with the highest charity; indeed, these men should beware of that zeal, which is by no means prudent, whereby it is thought that whatever is new, for this very reason should be attacked or brought into suspicion" [AAS 35 (1943), 319].

If anyone under the light of this commendation of the Supreme Pontiff should consider and interpret the three replies given officially by the Biblical Commission on the questions already mentioned, i.e., on the 23rd day of June, 1905, regarding the stories in the historical books of Sacred Scripture, which have only the appearance of history [n. 1980] on the 27th day of June, 1906, on the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch [n. 1997-2000], on the 30th day of June 1909, on the historical character of the three first chapters of Genesis [n. 2121-2128], will concede that these responses are by no means opposed to the earlier and truly scientific examination of these questions, which was instituted according to the information obtained within the last forty years. Therefore, the Biblical Commission does not think that, at least for the present, new decrees on these questions should be issued.

3863 As for what pertains to the composition of the Pentateuch, the Biblical Commission in the above mentioned decree of the 27th day of June, 1906, recognized that it could be affirmed that "Moses in the composition of his work had made use of sources, namely, written documents or oral tradition" [n. 1999], and that modifications and additions later than Moses can also be admitted [cf. n. 2000]. There is no one today who doubts the existence of these sources, or who does not admit the successive additions which are due to the social and religious conditions of later times, and which are evident also in the historical narrative. However, among non-Catholic exegetes today very different opinions are offered regarding the nature and number of these documents, and their identification and time. Authors are not lacking in various countries who, from purely critical and historical reasons, without any apologetic zeal, definitely reject the theories set forth up to now, and try to explain certain peculiarities of the composition of the Pentateuch not so much from the diversity of supposed sources as from the special psychology and peculiar method, more thoroughly known today, of thinking and speaking on the part of the ancient Orientals; or also from the literary genre which varies according to subject matter. Therefore, we urge Catholic scholars to examine these questions with open minds in the light of sane criticism, and according to the findings which other sciences interested in the subject have obtained. For such an examination will undoubtedly show how great a part and what a profound influence Moses had as author and legislator.

3864 The question of the literary forms of the eleven first chapters of Genesis is more obscure and more complicated. These literary forms do not correspond exactly with any classical category, and are not to be judged according to Greco-Latin or modern literary forms. Hence the historicity of these chapters can neither be denied nor affirmed simply, without undue application to them of the norms of a literary form under which they cannot be classed. If, then, it is admitted that in these chapters history in the classic and modern sense is not found, it must also be confessed that modern science does not yet offer a positive solution to all the problems of these chapters. . . . If anyone should contend a priori that their narratives contain no history in the modern sense of the word, he would easily insinuate that these are in no sense of the word historical, although in fact they relate in simple and figurative words, which correspond to the capacity of men who are less erudite, fundamental truths with reference to the economy of health, and also describe in popular manner the origin of humankind and of an elect people. . . .

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