Thursday, June 8, 2017

On the Parousia

Decrees of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

June 18, 1915 (AAS 7 [1915] 357f; EB 432ff; Dz 2179ff)

I: In order to meet the difficulties occurring in the Epistles of St Paul and other Apostles in passages which treat of the "Parousia", as it is called, or second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, is it allowed to a Catholic exegete to assert that, though the Apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost teach nothing erroneous, they none the less express their own human opinions which may rest on error or misconception?

Answer In the negative.

II: In view of the correct concept of the apostolic office and the undoubted fidelity of St Paul to the teaching of the Master ; in view also of the Catholic doctrine concerning the inspiration and inerrancy of Holy Scripture according to which whatever a sacred Writer asserts, declares, suggests, should be held to be asserted, declared, suggested by the Holy Ghost and after a careful examination on their own merits of the passages in the Epistles of St Paul which are in complete harmony with our Lord's own manner of speaking, should it be asserted that the Apostle Paul said nothing whatever in his writings which is not in complete harmony with that ignorance of the time of the Parousia which Christ himself proclaimed to belong to men?

Answer: In the affirmative.

III: After consideration of the Greek phrase hemeis hoi zontes hoi perileipomenoi; and after careful examination of the exposition of the Fathers, above all of St John Chrysostom, who was completely at home both in his native language and in the Pauline Epistles, is it lawful to reject as far-fetched and destitute of any solid foundation the interpretation traditional in the Catholic schools (and retained even by the Reformers of the sixteenth century) that explains the words of St Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, without in any way involving the assertion that the Parousia was so near that the Apostle counted himself and his readers among the faithful who will be left alive and go to meet Christ?

Answer: In the negative.

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