Somewhere out there, despite forty-plus years of the historical-critical method percolating through our parishes, there are Catholics who believe the Bible is a work of “exact history.”
I haven’t met any of these people, mind you, but surely they must exist.
Otherwise, how do we explain Ken Overberg, S.J.’s constant preaching about it from the lectern at XU’s Bellarmine Chapel?
These stories of God’s marvelous deeds, of course, are faith proclamations not exact history.
Today’s reading, from Genesis, tells part of the story of Abraham. God promises Abram both descendants and land. Though with some questions, Abram trusts in the Lord.
Some Scripture scholars think that the Transfiguration, today’s gospel, is a Resurrection story that was put back into the earthly life of Jesus. Others judge it to be a symbolic vision, helping us to appreciate the relationship between Jesus and the coming of God’s kingdom.
In any event, Overberg presents us with a textbook case of the false dichotomy: his cartoonish fundy strawman is pitted against his preferred modernist who kicks sand on the historicity of the Gospels. Almost fifty years ago, the Pontifical Biblical Commission laid down guidelines for exegetes and scholars. This paragraph from the text — especially the last sentence — seems to be written with Overbergian exegetes in mind:
Some proponents of this method, motivated by rationalistic prejudices, refuse to recognize the existence of a supernatural order. They deny the intervention of a personal God in the world by means of Revelation in the strict sense, and reject the possibility or actual occurrence of miracles and prophecies. Some start out with an erroneous concept of faith, regarding faith as indifferent to, or even incompatible with, historical truth. Some deny, a priori as it were, the historical nature and historical value of the documents of Revelation. And finally, some minimize the authority of the Apostles as witnesses to Christ. Belittling their office and their influence in the primitive community, these people exaggerate the creative power of the community itself [emphasis mine].