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The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

Have your own question? Then pitch it to us!

Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
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Our readers asked:

If the Bible is not history, then how can we trust it as truth?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

The Catholic Church teaches that the Bible is a literary product of its time which must be read with due attention to its literary genre (Vatican II).

Some books of the Bible were written as “historical narrative” and attempted to preserve some basic historical happenings, for example the rise of the Israelite kingdom and the building of the Temple under Solomon’s leadership in I Kings. However, many books were never meant to be read as history in the sense that we think of history today. Books of the Bible include poetry, legends, proverbs, songs, apocalyptic writing, fables, parables, etc. that attempt to convey truth without suggesting that it is accurate historical fact. For example, in the Psalms God is referred to as a bird: “Under His wings you will find refuge.” Yet the writer did not intend us to imagine that God has feathers! Rather the psalmist attempts to communicate the “truth” that God is a figure of strength and protection by using metaphorical language.

The Catholic Church and other mainline Protestant churches differ from fundamentalist churches who read the Bible literally, believing that scripture can be “true” without being “factual.”

 
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The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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