Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Raymond Brown-- deceitful claim of changed criteria in Biblical Criticism

Pius XII did not approve an about-face:
"After forty years of rigorous opposition, the Catholic Church in the
1940's under the pontificate of Pope Pius XII made an undeniable about - face in
attitude toward biblical criticism. The encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943)
instructed Catholic scholars to use the methods of scientific approach to the Bible
that had hitherto been forbidden to them. Within about ten years teachers trained
in biblical criticism began to move in large numbers into Catholic classrooms in
seminaries and colleges, so that the mid- 1950's really marked the watershed."
Raymond Brown

Raymond Brown-- deceitful claims of changed criteria in Biblical Criticism

Raymond Brown
Raymond E. Brown, S.S. Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church , Paulist
Press, New York, 1975.
I was so horrified on reading this book that I thought I better do a review
of it to try and get back my peace of mind. Let me begin with Father Brown’s

"...In recent years I have had the grace of teaching Protestant students for
the ministry as well as Catholic candidates for the priesthood. The Roman
Catholic Church could not have made its advance in biblical criticism without
Protestant aid. In the first third of the century the torch of biblical criticism was
kept lighted by Protestant scholars; and when after 1943 [he means after Divino
Afflante Spiritu, as we shall see later] Catholics lit their candles from it, they
profited from the burnt fingers as well as the glowing insights of their Protestant

It is no accident that Protestant and Catholic biblical scholars have
been coming closer together ever since, to the point now of producing common
studies of divisive problems. Such ecumenical experience governs the themes in
this book, for I hope and pray that the ultimate goal of the Roman Catholic
biblical pilgrimage in the twentieth century will be a unified Christianity." (p.ix)

Father Brown is trying to set himself up that you can’t criticize him without criticizing ecumenism.

He identifies three divisive areas which are impeding a unified Christianity: 1) the ordination of women, 2) the Papacy and 3) Our Lady. So by means of biblical criticism in union with Protestant scholars, we can re- examine these areas, and hopefully eliminate this divisiveness. This tool which they are using, biblical criticism, is of Protestant origin. The very term “criticism” implies that the Bible is just a human book; if it was a divine Book you wouldn't want to criticize it. They claim that biblical criticism is scientific, and therefore they can’t approach the Bible through authority, the Tradition and the Magisterium; that wouldn’t be scientific. This is basically the Protestant principle of sola Scriptura --Scripture alone.

Biblical criticism breaks down into three parts:
1.) Textual Criticism, (which could be good if used properly) attempts to recover the original text in which a book is written. They assert that the Bible is inspired only in the original text. (Which can be true to a point, if we had no Magesterium that could approve a certain translation like the Vulgate as inspired and free from error. This official approval was given by the Council of Trent) For instance in the Gospel of St. Matthew errors of copyists could have crept in, or marginal notes that were accidentally incorporated into the text. Now there are very few of these and they are all unsubstantial, and they have to be decided on
by the Church. But these people claim that the Bible is just full of errors.

2.) Literary Criticism which identifies the literary forms of the Bible could
also be good - the books of the Bible are historical, prophetical, etc., but they
want to identify fictional literary forms like the myth or midrash , which are not in
the Bible at all.

3.) Historical Criticism, which we can’t accept at all, because it implies
that the Bible is errant, in error. It breaks down into two parts:

Authenticity, is the particular book by the author it claims? For example, are
St. Matthew’s and St. John’s Gospels, really by St. Matthew and St. John? They will
say no, but we can’t accept that, because the Bible is officially aproved by the Magesterium and it says that St. Matthew and St. John did write these books.

b.) Historicity, is this account of the life of Our Lord really historical? They will say no, which again we can’t accept. They say we can examine divisive areas, like the Papacy and see that the primacy and infallibility are not in Scripture at all, the accounts of Our Lady are
not historical in any way. They are just symbolic, and there is nothing in
the Bible which would prohibit the ordination of women.

In this paper, I would like to just go after biblical criticism itself, rather than go through the three areas, because once you get biblical criticism, they won’t be able to use it for such

Father Brown has to go after the Church
condemnations that were made of his method in the early part of the century,

to use biblical criticism his way

Abbé Loisy an early Modernist, who was excommunicated for heresy, was a forerunner of Father Brown, and his
condemnation also condemns the Neo- Modernist, Brown. From 1905 through
1915 the Biblical Commission condemned this use of biblical criticism.

In a motu proprio, Praestantia Scripturae, Pope St. Pius X, made these decisions binding in conscience:
"Moreover, in order to check the daily increasing audacity of many modernists who are endeavoring by all kinds of sophistry and devices to detract from the force and efficacy not only of the decree "Lamentabili sane exitu" (the so-called Syllabus), issued by our order by the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition on July 3 of the present year, but also of our encyclical letters "Pascendi dominici gregis" given on September 8 of this same year, we do by our apostolic authority repeat and confirm both that decree of the Supreme Sacred Congregation and those encyclical letters of ours, adding the penalty of excommunication against their contradictors, and this we declare and decree that should anybody, which may God forbid, be so rash as to defend any one of the propositions, opinions or teachings condemned in these documents he falls, ipso facto..."

Then in 1943 Pope Pius XII in Divino Afflante Spiritu encouraged the scientific study of the
Bible. He mentioned textual and literary criticism favorably, but came down
strongly against historicity, especially in regards to the life of Our Lord:
#3."Finally it is absolutely wrong and forbidden "either to narrow inspiration to certain passages of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred," since divine inspiration "not only is essentially incompatible with error but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and constant faith of the Church..."

#50."...[L]et them confirm the Christian doctrine by sentences from the Sacred Books and illustrate it by outstanding examples from sacred history and in particular from the Gospel of Christ Our Lord; and -- avoiding with the greatest care those purely arbitrary and far-fetched adaptations..."

Then Father Brown is going to say that in 1955, this very some Biblical Commission abrogated these 1905 to 1915 decisions. Let me read Father Brown’s summary of this:

“Physical, historical, and linguistic methods, known to us only in
approximately the last one hundred years, have produced a scientifically critical
study of the Bible, a study that has revolutionized views held in the past about the
authorship, origin and dating of the biblical books, about how they were
composed, and what their authors meant. In the first forty years of this century
(1900 to 1940 approximately) the Roman Catholic Church very clearly and
officially took a stance against such biblical criticism. The Modernist heretics at
the beginning of the century employed biblical criticism, and the official Roman
condemnations of Modernism made little distinction between the possible
intrinsic validity of biblical criticism and the theological misuse of it by the
Modernists. Between 1905 and 1915 the Pontifical Biblical Commission in Rome
issued a series of conservative decisions on the composition and authorship of
the Bible. Although phrased with nuance [a favorite term of the Modernists], these
decisions ran against the trends of contemporary Old and New Testament
investigation. Yet Catholic scholars were obliged to assent to these decisions and
teach them.

“After forty years of rigorous opposition, the Catholic Church in the
1940's under the pontificate of Pope Pius XII made an undeniable about - face in
attitude toward biblical criticism. The encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943)
instructed Catholic scholars to use the methods of scientific approach to the Bible
that had hitherto been forbidden to them. Within about ten years teachers trained
in biblical criticism began to move in large numbers into Catholic classrooms in
seminaries and colleges, so that the mid- 1950's really marked the watershed. By
that time the pursuit of the scientific method had led Catholic exegetes to
abandon almost all the positions on biblical authorship and composition taken by
Rome at the beginning of the century. No longer did they hold that Moses was the
substantial author of the Pentateuch, that the first chapters of Genesis were really
historical, that Isaiah was one book, that Matthew was the first Gospel written by
an eyewitness, that Luke and Acts were written in the 60's, that Paul wrote
Hebrews, etc. This dramatic change of position was tacitly acknowledged in 1955
by the secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission who stated that now
Catholic scholars had complete freedom. with regard to these decrees of 1905-
1915 except where they touched on faith or morals (and very few of them did).” (pp.6,7)

The little book Rome and the Study of Scripture put out by the Abbey Press
at St. Meinrad, purports to be all the Roman documents on the study of Scripture,
yet they have left out Pascendi , Lamentabile, and the Oath Against Modernism, all
crucial documents in the study of the Bible, as well as Humani Generis in which
Pope Pius XII tried to plug up the holes he had left in Divino Afflante:

#23. "Further, according to their fictitious opinions, the literal sense of Holy Scripture and its explanation, carefully worked out under the Church's vigilance by so many great exegetes, should yield now to a new exegesis, which they are pleased to call symbolic or spiritual."

Then he
ends with this 1955 thing that they are claiming is a Roman Document. In the footnotes they always tell you where you can find a particular document in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, what Congregation put it out, etc. It turns out that this particular document is just a book review of the Enchiridion Biblicum , a collection of Roman biblical documents in Latin, a new edition having come out in 1955. The book review appeared in a German Benedictine magazine: Excerpts from Das Neue Biblische Handbuch, Benedictinishche Monatschrift . The review is signed A.M., but there seems to be no doubt this is the Very Reverend Athanasius Miller, O.S.B., secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

So in no way is this a Roman document; it is not in the Acta , or any

other official register. The Sword of the Spirit is an excellent little book by
Monsignor Steinmueller, a consultor of the Biblical Commission, who was there at this time, 1955, and he has this to say:

“I was a consultor of the first Pontifical Biblical Commission from 1947
(after the publication of Divino Afflante Spiritu ) to 1971; and I never heard any
intimation that any decrees of the Commission were ever revoked...Recently some
Catholic scholars have asserted that the decrees were implicitly revoked by Divino
Afflante Spiritu (1943) and that this is confirmed by two articles written by AS.
Miller and A. Kleinhans, who seem to restrict the scope of the decrees to matters
of faith and morals (cf..Jerome Biblical Commentary Vol II, p.629) [This is an
article by Brown. This 1955 thing seems to be his invention.] The articles referred
to were unauthorized and were condemned by the voting Cardinal members of
the Commission. A. Miller and A. Kleinhans were to be brought before the Holy
Office because of the articles, but were saved from this ordeal through the
personal intervention of Cardinal Tisserant [the Cardinal Prefect of the Biblical
Commission at the time] before the Holy Father. It was my friend Father Miller,
O.S.B., who told me the whole story before his return to Germany.” 2

Evidently Father Miller was shipped back to his monastery in Germany
after this event. Imagine trying to push this thing as a Roman document
abrogating the former decisions of the Biblical Commission, and what is worse,
getting away with it! It is a complete phony!

Father Brown then goes on to an Instruction of the Biblical Commission
issued in 1964 during the time of the Vatican Council, which he claims says that
the Gospels are not historical accounts of the life of Our Lord. Then he is going to
say that Vatican II incorporated this Instruction into its decree Dei Verbum on the
Bible. To follow Father Brown’s argument you have to understand what he means
by form criticism , which Rudolf Bultman, (1921), a liberal Protestant, used, to
claim that the Gospels are the artistic creations of the primitive communities.

The Gospels are not historical accounts of the life of Our Lord. They are in layers
added by the various communities that have turned Our Lord into a mythical
Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis:
#39. "Therefore, whatever of the popular narrations have been inserted into the Sacred Scriptures must in no way be considered on a par with myths or other such things"

Brown says we have to dig down till you come to the primitive layer, what Our Lord
actually said and did, a process he calls demythologizing . When you get down to
the bottom layer you find that Jesus was a mere man who never claimed to be

You also need to know another one of these liberal Protestants, Dibelius
(1919) and his redaction criticism , which is very similar to form criticism. He
claims that the redactor or editor, gathered together all the artistic creations of
the primitive communities.

The point being that these redactors were not the eyewitness Matthew and John, as had been always been believed, but late disciples, who then added their own artistic creations. By this means these men were able to deny the historicity of the four Gospels. Here is Father Brown on this document:

“The Historical Truth of the Gospels, an Instruction of the Pontifical
Biblical Commission (1964).
“...Stage One recognizes a limited worldview on Jesus’ part, even if it
delicately attributes this to accommodation. Most Catholic scholars would speak
more openly of Jesus’ own limited knowledge rather than accommodating himself
to the limited knowledge of his time.”(pp.111,112)

Father Brown says that Jesus didn’t know that He was God or the Messiah.
He denies His traditional beatific and infused knowledge, and claims He had only
experimental knowledge:

“Stage Two recognizes that the Christology of the early Church was post -
resurrectional in origin and read back into the accounts of the ministry. It allows
for development within the pre- Gospel of the Jesus tradition, and is a stage of
formation close to what scholars isolate by form- critical analysis.”(p.112)
The Gospels are not historical accounts of the Resurrection by
eyewitnesses, but rather post - resurrectional theological insights by later

“Stage Three acknowledges considerable freedom of authorship by the
evangelists. It is a stage of formation close to what scholars isolate by redaction
criticism.” (p.112)

The Gospels were not by eyewitnesses but by later disciples who added
their own meditations. Here is what the Instruction actually says:
“Stage One: The ministry of Jesus

“...When the Lord was orally explaining his doctrine, he followed the modes
of reasoning and of exposition which were in vogue at the time. He accommodated
himself to the mentality of his listeners.” [Brown’s italics] (pp.112,113)
Of course Our Lord accommodated Himself to the mentality of His
listeners. In the Synoptics he is speaking to Galileans who are very simple people.
He speaks in a completely different way than He does in St. John’s Gospel which
deals mainly with Our Lord’s Judean ministry. Here He is speaking to a people
who are very cosmopolitan, Pharisees and Sadducees, the intellectuals of the day,
so of course Our Lord had to accommodate Himself to the
mentality of His listeners. But they would say it was rather because of the
limitations of His human knowledge.

“Stage Two: The Preaching of the Apostles [Brown puts in italics the parts
he want to emphasize, and the following is in italics.]
“...After Jesus rose from the dead and his divinity was clearly perceived.”
(p.113) Of course the Apostles saw Jesus’ divinity more clearly after His
resurrection, but Brown will then claim the accounts in the Gospels where the
Apostles profess His divinity are not historical. Especially when St. Peter was
given the primacy: “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16).
Of course the Apostles’ faith was weak at that time, and they more clearly saw His
divinity after the Holy Ghost descended on them. Now the following passage, the
continuation of the above, is not in italics - evidently you weren’t supposed to
read it:

“...faith, far from destroying the memory of what had transpired, rather
confirmed it, because their faith rested on the things which Jesus did and taught.
Nor was he changed into a ‘mythical’ person and his teaching deformed in
consequence of the worship which the disciples from that time on paid Jesus as
Lord and the Son of God.” (p.113)
This is an explicit repudiation of Bultman’s form criticism and
demythologizing. The Evangelists didn’t just add artistic creations after the
resurrection which turned Our Lord into a mythical person, but rather the
resurrection allowed them to understand more clearly what Our Lord said and did
during His public life.

“This primitive instruction, which was at first passed on by word of mouth
and then in writing - for it soon happened that many tried ‘to compile a narrative
of the things’ which concerned the Lord Jesus - was committed to writing by the
sacred authors...”(pp.113,114)

Ah, they say, notice they didn’t say Matthew, Mark Luke and John,
especially Matthew and John the eyewitnesses, but just “sacred authors.” These
are the late redactors. All you need to do is to give them a little phrase like that
and they are in. This Instruction does not deny the historical truth of the Gospels,
but rather affirms it. Now Father Brown will go on to say that this document was
incorporated into Dei Verbum of Vatican II.

There is a wonderful book "The Rhine Flows into the Tiber" by Fr. Ralph
Wiltgen, S.V.D. on Vatican II. It is not at all a sensational book as were so many on
the Council; one I especially remember was by Xavier Rynne, who turned out to be
a Redemptorist named Mahoney, who broke his oath of secrecy. He leaked all the
inside proceedings of the Council while it was still in session, and his book
became a best - seller. Father Wiltgen ran a Catholic news service at the Council,
and his reporting was so accurate that all the different factions of the Council
came to him with their releases. What he means by the title, The Rhine Flows into
the Tiber, is that before the Council actually began its sessions, the Rhineland
bishops with their periti , that is the bishops of Germany, France, Switzerland,
Holland and Belgium (about 150 of them), met, and they planned to introduce
Neo- Modernism into the Church. Father Wiltgen will say that in part they
succeeded, because they were able to introduce into the Council documents,
ambiguous phrases susceptible of a Modernist interpretation, and thus in a sense
the “Rhine flowed into the Tiber” Neo- Modernism flowed into the Church.

In the Constitution Dei Verbum the Neo- Modernist campaign was fought
out on three articles, 9, 11, and 19. The Theological Commission drew up the
schema for this Constitution and it was dominated by these Rhineland men; the
periti included Father Rahner, Father Schillebeeckx, and Father Küng. In Article 9
they tried to say that the sole source of revelation was the Bible, the Protestant
principle of sola Scriptura . Revelation didn’t also come from Tradition. That
would deny, for instance, that there are seven sacraments; which comes primarily
from oral tradition. What they are after especially is the priesthood, the sacrament
of Holy Orders.

Article 11 limited the inerrancy of Holy Scripture just to matters of faith
and morals; this is something they have been after for a long time. And Article 19
is this Instruction of the Biblical Commission which Father Brown claims denies
the historicity of the Gospels. Believe it or not this schema was passed by 83 %of
the Council Fathers, a tremendous majority. It was in; all they had to do was to
get the signature of the Pope. But a small group of Council Fathers, mainly
Americans and Italians, protested to the Holy Father that these articles were Neo-
Modernist. The Holy Father was very upset, and he sent a letter to the Theological
Commission protesting these three articles.

Here is Father Wiltgen:
“The Commission met on October 19 to hear the contents of the letter.
The first of the three papal directives concerned Article 9 [the one on sola
Scriptura ], and suggested seven possible renderings. Cardinal Bea explained why
he preferred the third one. After some discussion and balloting, the Commission
decided to add to Article 9 the words: ‘Consequently, it is not from Sacred
Scripture alone that the Church draws its certainty about everything which has
been revealed.’ This had been Cardinal Bea’s choice.” 3
So this addition strikes down the bid for sola Scriptura. Father Wiltgen

“In regard to Article 11 [the one on the inerrancy of Scripture] the
Commission was invited by Cardinal Cicognani, [he is the one who brought the
Pope’s letter, and read it to the Commission] on behalf of Pope Paul to consider
‘with new and serious reflection’ the advisability of omitting the expression ‘truth
pertaining to salvation’ from the text.” 4
The phrase “truth pertaining to salvation” is an ambiguous phrase, and in
their interpretation it would be used to deny the inerrancy of some sections of the
Bible. The Holy Father wanted it dropped, but the Commission refused to remove
the dangerous phrase.

“...the Commission decided to reword the phrase as follows ‘...the books of
Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly, faithfully, and without error
that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our
salvation.’” 5

So all they did was make it a little longer, and the phrase “truth pertaining
to salvation” is still there. This will allow exegetes like Father Brown to deny the
historicity of passages of the Bible which don’t fit their theories. This was done
deliberately by these Rhineland bishops. Now here is the article that Father Brown
claims denies the historicity of the Gospels: Father Wiltgen:

“With regard to Article 19, Cardinal Cicognani advised the Commission
that Pope Paul regarded the words ‘true and sincere’ as insufficient. That
expression, he said did not seem to guarantee the historical reality of the Gospels,
and he added the Holy Father clearly ‘could not approve a formulation which
leaves in doubt the historicity of these most holy books...It was then suggested
that the historicity of the Gospels should be asserted without equivocation earlier
in the same paragraph; this would preclude any ambiguity concerning the words
‘true and sincere’ which could then be retained.
“...The beginning of Article 19 was thus amended to read as follows: ‘Holy
Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to
hold, that the four Gospels...whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly
asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ...really did and taught for their
eternal salvation.’” 6

So this completely strikes down Brown’s claims for form criticism and
redaction criticism. To claim that the Council taught these inept methods is just a
bluff. Now watch what Father Brown can do with that weak phrase from Article 11
“those truths pertaining to our salvation” and this is the reason they got it in:
“The Statement of Vatican II on Inerrancy
“...Only gradually have we learned to distinguish that while all Scripture is
inspired, all Scripture is not inerrant. The first step in narrowing the scope of
inerrancy is to recognize that the concept is applicable only when an affirmation
of truth is involved. In the Bible there are passages of poetry, song, fiction, and
fable where the matter of inerrancy does not even arise. A second step is to
recognize that not every affirmation of truth is so germane to God's purpose in
inspiring the Scriptures that He has committed Himself to it. Already in
Providentissimus Deus (1893) Pope Leo XIII acknowledged that the scientific
affirmations of the Bible were not necessarily inerrant, since it was not God's
purpose to teach men science."(p.115)
This is not what Pope Leo said.

#18"Hence they did not seek to penetrate the secrets of nature, but rather described and dealt with things in more or less figurative language, or in terms which were commonly used at the time and which in many instances are in daily use at this day, even by the most eminent men of science. Ordinary speech primarily and properly describes what comes under the senses; and somewhat in the same way the sacred writers -- as the Angelic Doctor [Aquinas] also reminds us -- "went by what sensibly appeared,"54 or put down what God, speaking to men, signified, in the way men could understand and were accustomed to."

He said that the Bible does not teach science, that is go into the intrinsic nature of things, but rather goes by what sensibly appears. Brown is saying that if you say the sun sets, that's an error; you are denying the Copernican system. This is not an error; this is the way men talk, even still today.
It is ridiculous to say that the Bible is in error on scientific matters.

Eventually the same principle was applied to historical affirmations, but the
last frontier has been religious affirmations. "Job's denial of an afterlife (Job
14:14- 22) makes it difficult to claim that all religious affirmations of the Bible are
Did Job deny the after life?
Job said: “he has kept us for a short time and then let's us go forever.”
Brown is saying that this denies the afterlife. It doesn 't. And imagine taking
advantage of poor Job. He has just lost everything; he is almost in despair; he is
almost ready to blaspheme; he is on the verge of suicide, and then claim, that's
the Bible teaching religion. It is as if when the high priest tore his garments, and
said that Our Lord blasphemed. Ah, there 's a religious error. Can you see the
ridiculousness of the claim that the Bible teaches religious error.

Brown continues:
"Vatican II has made it possible to restrict inerrancy to the essential religious
affirmations of a biblical book made for the sake of our salvation.
The Books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly, faithfully,
and without error that truth which God wanted put into the Sacred writings for
the sake of our salvation."(pp.115,116)
So you can see what they can do with an ambiguous phrase which was
deliberately inserted into the Council documents. This is what Father Wiltgen
means when he says “the Rhine flowed into the Tiber.” Let me conclude this paper
with an amusing exchange between Pope Paul VI and one of these self- important
periti. Father Wiltgen doesn 't name the person involved, but I suspect it is Fr.
John Courtney Murray, S.J.. He had drawn up the draft for the Council's
Declaration on Religious Freedom, and was lionized in the secular and religious
press. As a result. he evidently got an exaggerated opinion of his importance at
the Council.
While Pope Paul was considering whether to intervene in the matter or not,
he received a letter from a leading personality at the Council - not a member of
the Theological Commission - who had taken it upon himself to act as the
spokesman for some alarmists at the Council. The writer said that if the Pope
reconvened the Commission, as it was rumored, he would be guilty of using moral
pressure on the Commission and the Council. Such a step, continued the writer,
would damage the prestige of the Council and the Church, especially in Anglo-
Saxon countries, the United States and Canada, where people were particularly
sensitive to any violation of Rules of Procedure.
To this, Pope Paul replied:
'...These principles are no less dear to Romans than they are to the Anglo-
Saxons. They have been most rigorously observed in the Council.' "6

1 Rome and the Study of Scripture, Abbey Press Publishing Division, St. Meinrad, IN,
1964, p.176.
2 Msgr. John E. Steinmueller, The Sword of the Spirit: Which Is the Word of God, Stella
Maris Books Ft. Worth, TX, 1977, pp.7,8.
3 Rev. Ralph M. Wiltgen, S.V.D., The Rhine Flows into the Tiber , Hawthorn Books Inc., New
York, 1966,. pp.181,182
4 Wiltgen, Op. Cit., p.182.
5 Wiltgen, p.182.
6 Wiltgen, pp.183,184.