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Jackie Zurawski wrote:

Hi, guys —

There is a Bible Study group at a parish that is using the historical-critical method.

  • Am I correct in not trusting it?

Jackie Z.

  { Should a Bible Study group at a parish be using the Historical-Critical method? }

John replied:

Hi Jackie,

The Historical-Critical method is a valuable tool when used properly in conjunction with other methods of biblical exegesis.

If it is used, by itself, it often leads to a pattern of focusing on the wrong questions. It often leads to doubting anything the Scriptures have to say and too often the conclusions reached by some of the Historical-Critical scholars amount to speculation. The biggest problem is that it takes Scripture alone approach. As Catholics, we have 2,000 years of Tradition. We also have several centuries of early church fathers who all wrote commentary on the Scriptures.

  • So should it be used?

    Yes, but wisely and as a part of an overall study plan that includes:
    • the Church Fathers
    • the Catechism
    • Church documents, and
    • so forth.

I've attached an [MS Word|PDF] document. It's notes from the RCIA Class I used to teach on Scripture and the way it should be approached as Catholics.


Jackie replied:

Hi John,

Thank you for your answer!

My concern is based on the parish's reputation for being very liberal. I may give it a try and see how it goes.


John replied:


You may find a Bible study in liberal parish pretty frustrating.

If that's the case, there are also other options for your private study of the Scriptures.
Dr. Scott Hahn and Jeff Cavins have some good stuff out there.

Dr. Hahn in particular has some great audio series.


Jackie replied:

Thank you!

I went once some time ago for what was supposed to be a review of the next Sunday's Gospel.
It ended up a discussion of married priests.

I never went back.


Bob replied:


While the Historical Critical method has proven valuable in certain respects, it is not totally trustworthy. It has a rationalistic bias which tends to neutralize the power of Scripture.

I would not trust it either. Don't be surprised at how much of the miraculous disappears with this viewpoint/method.

Be sure and read some solid books by Catholic authors like Scott Hahn if you really want to unpack the amazing depths of the Scriptures without compromising theological integrity or scholarship.


Bob Kirby

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