In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way.
To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to
what the human authors truly wanted to affirm and to what God
wanted to reveal to us by their words.
In order to discover
the sacred authors’ intention,
must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the
literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling,
speaking, and narrating then current. “For the fact is that truth is
differently presented and expressed in the various types of histori
cal writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of
But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and
no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which
Scripture would remain a dead letter. “Sacred Scripture must be
read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was
The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for
interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired
Be especially attentive
to the content and unity of the whole
” Different as the books which comprise it may be, Scrip-
ture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ
Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.
The phrase “heart of Christ” can refer to Sacred Scripture,
which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as
the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened
since the Passion; since those who from then on have under
stood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies
must be interpreted.
Read the Scripture within
the living Tradition of the whole
” According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is
written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents
and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living
memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her
12 § 1.
12 § 2.
12 § 3.
12 § 4.
80 St. Thomas Aquinas,
Expos. in Ps