Part One of Mark Shea's Scripture Study Guide Is Up At Catholic Exchange

Look here.

I'd be especially interested to hear from Bible Church people on this section:

"2. Read the Scripture within “the living tradition of the whole Church."

Goldfish do not live in a vacuum. Neither does Scripture. Many people have the notion that the only way to get at what Scripture "really" means is by "peeling away Tradition." This is exactly like thinking you will get to know your goldfish better by peeling away all that interfering water and holding your fish in your hand. What you will find very soon is that your fish is dead.

Same with Scripture, and for the same reason. Scripture is the result of the Sacred Tradition of the community that made it under the inspiration of the Spirit. Some people ask, "What right does the Church have to decide what goes in the Bible?" You may as well ask what right you have to decide what goes in your family photo album. Because Scripture is nothing other than the written testimony of what that Church believes and has experienced. Books that reflect those beliefs and experiences were (under the guidance of the Spirit) written and then preserved by the Church. Books that don't reflect this were not.

Because of this, you can no more read Scripture apart from Tradition than you can talk to a person without air. Scripture is simply the written aspect of the Church's Tradition. It is written with the assumption that you are already eating, sleeping and breathing that Tradition."
Part of what led me to seek out the Catholic Church last year was the growing feeling that the more I got "back to the Bible," the more it seemed like it had to be a piece of the faith puzzle as opposed to the whole puzzle. This section of Mark's article really speaks to that for me. It also calls to mind his 1997 Envoy magazine article called "Five Myths About the Seven Books," which was, without exaggeration, the article that pushed me over the edge and made me give this Catholicism thing a shot.

The fact is, the Bible is a Catholic book. And trying to live your life according to its precepts outside of the framework of the Church that gave it to us is ultimately an exercise in confusion and frustration. Last year, putting aside my self-developed hermeneutic and allowing myself, just for an evening, to read the Bible from a Catholic perspective (try Scripture Catholic for help with this) unlocked Scripture in an unbelievably exciting and profound way for me. It was like going from 2-D to 3-D. The stories leapt off the page, the people came to life, events fit together like never before. It was incredible.

So if you've been "Bible Only" and found that sometimes, that just isn't enough, I challenge you to give Mark's suggestions a chance. It may be the thing that finally helps you to "get" Scripture in its entirety for the very first time. The Scripture Catholic website is a fantastic resource for this kind of thing, but if you prefer the feel of a real book in your hand, pick up a Catholic Bible (I recommend Revised Standard Version, or RSV). Each chapter will have detailed commentary giving context and Catholic interpretation of the verses. It's like getting a powerful study guide free with your Bible -- and it's written by the author, editor, and publisher -- Christ's Church.

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