I had the privilege of sharing a study on the Gospel of Mark with a group of students at one of my high schools. To set the stage for this study, I began by giving them an overview of the Bible as well as three claims Catholics place on what we read in Scripture. Here’s the second half of that conversation, completing what I said about what the Bible is & where it came from.
What do Catholics believe about the Bible?
A lot, actually. Along with Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium (the Pope and Bishops who act as the teaching body of the Church), Scripture is one of the three primary sources of Revelation. Catholics believe that scripture really is God’s word (which is why at Mass we say “The Word of the Lord”), we believe that it is true, and that it makes up an irreplaceable part of the whole of our faith. Another way to explain this is to say that the Bible is inspired, the Bible is innerant, and the Bible is canonical.
The teaching of the Church on inspiration in scripture speaks of the way that God’s grace influences the human author in the writing of the scriptures. While it is God who inspired the scriptures they speak with His authority, but these books also have the fingerprints of their human authors. Each of these wrote with their understanding of God and the world around them: “Indeed the words of God, expressed in human language, are in every way like human speech, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the weak flesh of human beings, became like them” (Dei Verbum 12). This means that the scriptures are both a divine work and a human work. A proper reading of scripture keeps both dynamics in mind: reading the Bible in the same Spirit as it was written (most easily done in prayer), and with an awareness of the context of the human author (who they were, why they were writing, and well as the type of literature that they wrote).