Bible's 'dark passages' require proper interpretation



In his Apostolic Exhortation on the Word of God, Pope Benedict XVI wrote about “dark” passages of the Bible; those passages which, "due to the violence and immorality they occasionally contain, prove obscure and difficult.”

Revelation sometimes “describes facts and customs, such as cheating and trickery, and acts of violence and massacre, without explicitly denouncing the immorality of such things.” The pontiff said that “this can be explained by the historical context, yet it can cause the modern reader to be taken aback, especially if he or she fails to take account of the many “dark” deeds carried out down the centuries, and also in our own day.” The pope encouraged “scholars and pastors to help all the faithful to approach these passages through an interpretation which enables their meaning to emerge in the light of the mystery of Christ.”

I am under the impression from various discussions that many people have been influenced by the writings of the so-called new atheists, who have been misusing such “dark” passages in an attempt to discredit Scripture and the faith. May I suggest that the R.I. Catholic offer a series of articles geared toward those of us in the pew with the goal of providing us with practical responses that can be used in our discussions which do not lend themselves to providing lengthy background information? Other educational efforts on this subject in the parishes could also prove helpful. This is a matter that should be taken very seriously.

William P. McKenna