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Chapter 6: The Bible
   Sacred Scripture
      162. The Word of God?

{162.1} Q. How do we know the Bible is the Word of God? Where are the original texts of the Bible?

{162.2} A. Nowhere does the Bible speak of itself as "the Word of God." In one verse we read that "all scripture is inspired by God" (2 Tm 3:16). What was "scripture" when St. Paul wrote this letter to St. Timothy? Only the Old Testament.

{162.3} What does "inspired" mean? My first professor of New Testament, himself a Unitarian, taught us that the word means "inspired" in the same sense that all good literature is inspired: noble thoughts, elevated language. Period.

{162.4} When I heard that, I said to myself, "But I have always been taught it means a great deal more than that!" At the same time I realized that nothing in Scripture would enable me to disprove his interpretation of "inspiration."

{162.5} The point is this: As St. Augustine once noted, we know that the Bible is the Word of God, we know that it is inspired by God and totally reliable, only because the Catholic Church tells us so.

{162.6} In one of the answers above in this column, we noted that the New Testament is the Church's book. What we have in the New Testament books is a distillation of the Church's tradition, but certainly not the whole of her tradition. The last verse of the Fourth Gospel assures us of this fact: "There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written" (Jn 21:25).

{162.7} As for the original manuscripts of the biblical books, they have all been lost in the dim past.

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