Fr. Raymond Brown’s Hermeneutical Heresies

In Catholic biblical hermeneutics, a turning point occurred during the reign of Pius XII. In his encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, Pius believed it to be beneficial that Catholic biblical scholars be able to use the interpretive tools of what is known as “historical criticism.” In a word, it could be said that historical criticism seeks to apply scientific analysis to a written document. Is the document authentic? What is its date? Who wrote it? Did the author borrow from other sources? What type of literature is it? How much is the author influenced by his culture? Did the author fabricate, exaggerate, or embellish his story? These and many other questions the historical critic brings to his document. The document studied can be any piece of literature of historical worth – a sonnet by Shakespeare, a Greek tragedy by Homer, or even the United States Constitution. In a word, the historical critic tries to get to the real essence of the document so that he can find out the real truth of what occurred, or at least, what he thinks is the real
truth.

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