The Bible in Roman Catholicism since Divino Afflante Spiritu

John R. Donahue

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 10/1/1993

Issue: Biblical Interpretation for Christian Ministry (Vol. 13, No 4, Fall, 1993)

Historical criticism within Catholicism more properly begins with the attempts to grapple with rising historical consciousness by members of the Catholic Tübingen school in the nineteenth century. Its progress was hampered, however, by a number of significant factors. The polemical atmosphere that had long prevailed in a divided western Christianity made biblical scholarship suspect as a “Protestant” enterprise. The revolutionary movements of the nineteenth century, which ended in the destruction of the papal states, spawned a papacy that was suspicious of modern political and intellectual movements. The First Vatican Council (1869-70) was defensive in its posture toward modernity, and its definition of papal infallibility, in the minds of many people, further undermined the authority of the Bible within Roman Catholicism and widened the gap between Protestants and Catholics.

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