April 25, 2002
volume 13, no. 79

E-mail       Print
The Biblical Commission on the Jews: Changes in Doctrine and New Anathemas    Part IV

By Atila Sinke Guimarăes

Translated and edited by Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.

    Following is the FOURTH INSTALLMENT of a seven-part treatise and critique of the Pontifical Biblical Commission's document The Hebrew People and its Holy Scriptures in the Christian Bible. This is a comprehensive response by Atila Sinke Guimarăes to the entire document. Atila reviewed the original Italian work by the PBC titled "Il populo ebraico e le sue Sacre Scritture nella Bibbia cristiana," Preface by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001, 213 pp. which we sent to him. He then wrote his review and translated the excerpts he used from Italian to Portuguese. Dr. Marian has worked closely with him in translating and editing his critique from Portuguese into English. Atila and Marian have graciously accepted our request to critique the book while all in the United States still wait for the English translation. The response is too important to delay because what is contained in the Vatican document will truly alarm you. For the list of the 21 members of the Pontifical Biblica Commission see PBC Members

For installments thus far, see Archive below

IV. Grave Errors and Tendentious Relativizations

    Part two, entitled Basic Themes of the Scriptures of the Hebrew People and their Welcome in the Faith of Christ, divides the topic under two subtitles:

  • A Christian understanding of the relations between the Old and New Testament;
  • Common fundamental themes.

    The themes that stand out in this part regard the messianic mission of Jesus Christ, the relativization of Catholic exegesis, and the adoption of the Jewish interpretation of Scriptures.

    1. Messianic mission of Jesus Christ - In this part, the PBC crosses the boundaries of imprecision and ambiguity to hurl itself headlong into error and iniquity when it speaks of the messianic mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    The Pontifical Biblical Commission does, in fact, acknowledge that the Old Testament in innumerable places foresaw the coming of Jesus Christ and His saving mission. However, the Commission shamelessly counsels Catholics to abandon these proofs that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, for if Catholics refuse to do this, the PBC says, what would become evident would be the "unjustifiable and obstinate incredulousness of the Jews." If this were verified, the PBC would have difficulty in favoring the Jews. Therefore, taking up this surprising and hypocritical perspective, the PBC tailors a new way to present the redemptive mission of Our Lord. Here are the texts that verify this for the reader:

    "The notion of the fulfillment [of the mystery of Christ] is extremely complex, and can be easily distorted if one insists unilaterally on either continuity or discontinuity [of the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament in the New Testament]. The Christian faith acknowledges the fulfillment of the Scriptures and the expectation of Israel in Christ, but it does not understand this fulfillment as a simple realization of what was written …. Jesus does not limit himself to carrying out a pre-established role - that of Messiah. Rather, He confers to the notion of Messiah and salvation a plentitude that was impossible to imagine before .… It is better, for this reason, not to insist excessively, as a certain apologetics does, upon the merit of the proofs attributed to the fulfillment of the prophecies. Such insistence has contributed to the Christians' severe judgment of the Hebrews. In their reading of the Old Testament the more the reference to Christ becomes evident in the old-testamentary texts, the more the incredulousness of the Hebrews become unjustifiable and obstinate.

        "The verification of a discontinuity between the two Testaments and an overemphasis on the old perspectives should not lead to a one-sided spiritualization. That which was already fulfilled in Christ should still be fulfilled in us and in the world. The definitive fulfillment will be that [which takes place] at the end, with the resurrection of the dead, the new heaven and the new earth. The messianic hope of the Hebrews is not in vain. It can become for us a strong stimulus to keep alive the eschatological dimension of our faith. We also, like them [the Jews], are alive to the hope. The difference lies in the fact that for us He who will come will have the features of that Jesus who already came and is already present and active in us" (pp. 52-3).

    The fulfillment of the redemptive or messianic mission of Our Lord does not depend, contrary to what the PBC affirms, on our response to it and the events at the end of the world. The universal Redemption made by Our Lord was completed at the moment in which He expired on the cross and said: Consumatum est. Correspondence to grace and the individual salvation of each one of us are realities that exist as consequences of the Redemption. There is nothing confusing or complex about it. The second coming of Our Lord is different from His redemptive mission. Jesus Christ will come at the end of the world as judge in order to close History. Creation, Redemption, and the end of History are three distinct realities. This is the Catholic thinking on the matter. [21] Therefore, the PBC's statement I quoted is wrong. And this error would be committed deliberately in order to favor the Jewish perfidy.

[ 21. Catechism of the Council of Trent, trans. by John McHugh and Charles Callan (NY: Joseph F. Wagner, Inc., 1962), "Fruits of Christ's Passion," pp. 59-60. ]

    To understand what the PBC text is actually saying, one has to have recourse to a theory quite different from the Catholic doctrine. One has to imagine the universe in an evolutionary process. The whole of the universe would not have an essential distinction among its parts nor would it have an essential distinction from God, who would be immanent in the universe. The universe would be evolving from its first state of brute matter to the spirit, passing through man. These would be the phases of the process: matter, spirit, and finally the universe would reach the divine stage.

    Jesus Christ would have been the first man in whom humanity would have become divine. He would have been the one who would have initiated a new stage of evolution. This divine stage of evolution, however, would not achieve the same degree of progress in each one of us. A period would elapse for the full evolutionary process to be completed. But, in the end, everything would be divinized. With this doctrine, one can understand the PBC's enigmatic references to a "new heaven," a "new earth" and a "new creation," which in fact follows faulty progressivist thinking.

    If these myths are taken seriously as truths, the "mission" of Christ would not have been that of making reparation before God for the offense of original sin and opening the gates of Heaven for mankind as the Church teaches, but of announcing a new evolutionary phase for man. His "mission" would have been to plant the seed of the new divine stage. Beginning with Him, "salvation" already exists, but still is not complete. It is the well known progressivist doctrine of the "already, but still not" to which the PBC also makes reference. [22] "Universal salvation" would only be fully realized at the end of this process. Then everyone would be conscious of the new divine stage into which we would have entered. For this reason, the progressivist doctrine visualizes the second coming of Christ as completing His "mission" by closing the present day evolutionary phase and making the whole of the universe pass to a new one.

[22. "The theme of the Reign of God …. is a central theme of the synoptic Gospels, because it forms the basis for the prophetic preaching of Jesus, His messianic mission, and His death and Resurrection. The old promise thus finds its realization in a fecund tension between the already but still not" (p. 142). ]

    By assuming such a doctrine, the PBC affirms that the messianic mission of Christ still has not been completely fulfilled. This is no longer Catholic doctrine. It is a Pantheist and Gnostic fable diametrically opposed to the perennial teaching of the Holy Church.

    2. Relativizing the Catholic exegesis and adopting the Jewish exegesis - The PBC adopts the historic method in a way that puts in doubt the traditional Catholic interpretation of the Old Testament and defends the Jewish interpretation. This is despite the fact that the Jewish exegetical books contain innumerable condemnations of Our Lord, Our Lady, Catholic dogma, and the Holy Church. The PBC does not consider this reason enough to censure such books. On the contrary, it "justifies" them and recommends them for the admiration and study of the Catholic faithful.

    In The Hebrew People, the PBC affirms:

    "The Christian interpretation of the Old Testament is, therefore, an interpretation that differs according to the diverse types of texts …. It deals with a theological interpretation, but at the same time a fully historical one. Far from excluding the critical-historical exegesis, it requires it.

        "When the Christian reader perceives that the internal dynamism of the Old Testament finds its realization in Jesus, he would be assuming a retrospective perspective, whose point of departure is not in the texts as such, but in the events of the New Testament proclaimed in the apostolic preaching. For this reason one should not say that the Hebrew does not see what was announced in the texts, but rather that the Christian, in the light of Christ and the Church, discovers in the texts an increased meaning that was hidden in them" (p. 54)

    After stating this false and relativist presupposition, the PBC goes further. It says:

       "Christians can and should admit that the Hebrew reading of the Bible is a possible reading, which finds itself in continuity with the Hebraic sacred Scriptures of the time …. And it is similar to the Christian reading, which developed parallel to theirs …. From the concrete plane of exegesis, Christians can still learn much from the Hebrew exegesis practiced for more than two thousand years" (p. 55).

    One can see, therefore, that the relativizations of the PBC have a twofold goal: to deny Catholic dogma and to install the Jewish religion's criteria of interpretation inside the Catholic Church.

    Monday, April 29: Part Five Denying the Objectivity of the Jewish Crimes Against Our Lord and the Nascent Church

List of Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission
Preface by Cardinal Ratzinger
Part One: Historical-Doctrinal Presuppositions
Part Two: An Extreme of Historicism
Part Three: Imprecise Language and Suspicious Texts

Thursday, April 25, 2002
volume 13, no. 76
Return to Current Issue