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'A Kneeling Exegesis' :Encountering God in His Word:

7/4/2005 - 5:00 AM PST

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Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
Catholic Online

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“Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by sacred Scripture. For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life”

"Dei Verbum" (On the Word of God), Second Vatican Council, Paragraph 21

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Introduction

I recently read a report concerning an ecumenical gathering of Scripture scholars and academics that was held in Rome at the Pontifical Biblical Institute called the "Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar". The group describes itself as being “composed of Biblical scholars and other academics who seek a "kneeling exegesis" a combination of rigorous academic investigation with deep faith in the Bible as the revealed Word of God.”

I so loved the phrase that I was inspired to use it as a title for this article in which I will seek to encourage my readers to fall in love with the Word of God. News of the meeting was quite encouraging to me. It reflects a promising trend, a return, or better yet, a leap forward; to an approach to the Bible in contemporary theological circles that is much more akin to the approach of the early fathers of the unified Christian Church; an approach that is rooted in faith.

I am not a scripture scholar. However, I am a scripture lover. Since my teenage return to practicing my faith, the scriptures have formed the foundation for my relationship with the One whom they reveal. I have several Bibles that are so worn they are almost comical in their appearance. When one looks inside, the copious highlighting covers so much of the text that it appears the original page was yellow. Over the years that I have spent working ecumenically, I have taken delight in the reactions of some of my evangelical Protestant friends who seem surprised that a Catholic would have such a worn Bible.

Yet, if one understands the Catholic approach to scripture (which is also the Orthodox approach) one should not be surprised. The Bible lies at the very heart of the Churches worship, faith and life because it reveals the face of God. The words of the Bible put a praying reader in relationship with Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, through whom we are brought into communion with the Trinitarian God. Thus all the baptized faithful are called into an ever deepening encounter with God through the Sacred Scriptures. Let me share with you some of my thoughts concerning the Bible, and how we can grow in our relationship with the Lord through developing a “kneeling exegesis.”

The Book of the Church

The Bible is the “Book of the Church.” Christianity is never about simply “me and Jesus”. If anything, it is about me in Jesus. We live our lives now as a part of His Body, the Church. Catholics and Orthodox rightly emphasize that to belong to Jesus is to belong to His Church. God did not throw a book out of heaven; He came among us as the Word become Flesh. Through the Incarnation, life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ- and through the working of the Holy Spirit – a new creation has begun.

The Church is not an organizational afterthought that we all put together so that we have a place to study the Bible together and worship. It is the very Body of Christ, the seed of the kingdom that is coming, the plan of God revealed, a new family into which we are reborn through the womb that is the Baptismal font. The Lords’ presence continues in His Body, the Church, which is a communion of all the faithful with the Lord. He gave the sacred text to those who are His own in this world by giving it to the Church, the home of those who are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus and become sons (and daughters) in the Son.

God has entrusted His Word to this Church, this new people who were born from the water and blood that flowed from the wounded side of Jesus Christ. The Bible, the great treasury of His written word, is a gift to this Church. At first it was received by the early Church in the form of the Old Testament books, the Gospels and the letters of the apostles that were “circulated” (that is what the word “encyclical” means) among the early Christian communities. Later, what we have now call the “Bible” was compiled in the “Canon” (the word means “measuring stick”), by the early Church in Council, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This complete text, discerned as to its final content within the Church, is now given to and for the Church. It is meant to govern her life and ...

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