JOSEPH G. PRIOR, The Historical Critical Method in Catholic Exegesis
The historical critical method is a collection of exegetical procedures and techniques applied to biblical texts to determine their literal sense. This literal sense has been described in various ways in the history of biblical interpretation, from the obvious sense, to the author’s intention, to the meaning expressed in the words of the inspired author. At every stage of the method’s development, questions have arisen concerning its value for exegetical and theological studies. The question asked most recently in debates among Catholic scholars and theologians can be phrased «What is the place of the historical critical method in Catholic exegesis?».
This study focuses on the method as accepted and used according to the principles of Catholic biblical interpretation. The necessity and limits of the method are discussed as they were understood in four periods of Christian history. The sources for the study include selected literature of the early church, and the various ecclesial documents on biblical studies issued since 1893. Special attention is given to the «crisis» in biblical interpretation identified in scholarly writings between 1983-1993, the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s response in The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, and the discussion following its publication. Also included in this study is a treatment on the development of terminology for the component disciplines of the historical-critical method as well as terminology associated with the senses of Scripture.
JOSEPH G. PRIOR, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was born in 1964 and ordained in 1990. He has studied at St. Charles Seminary; the Pontifical Biblical Institute where he received a Licentiate in Sacred Scriptures in 1997; and the Gregorian University where he received a Doctorate in Theology in 1999. He is currently on the Faculty of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbrook—Philadelphia.
(C) PUG 2004