302. Dei Verbum by Pope Paul VI

Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation DEI VERBUM solemnly promulgated
by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965

Reason for Reading: This dogmatic constitution is one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council.  I am reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church this year and this document is cited for quotations extensively in the first section so I decided to read it in it's entirety.  It is not long, 8 printed computer pages of text plus 4 of bibliographic notes.  However, this is not easy reading and is slow going yet is satisfying reading in the end.  Dei Verbum is Latin for "The Word of God" and thus this document is about God's Word: the Bible.

The document can be found here.

The document is divided into the following chapters:

Preface (1)
  1. Revelation Itself (2–6)
  2. Handing On Divine Revelation (7–10)
  3. Sacred Scripture, Its Inspiration and Divine Interpretation (11–13)
  4. The Old Testament (14–16)
  5. The New Testament (17–20)
  6. Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church (21–26)

Brief summary notes in my own words or "quotes" from the chapters, basically for my own reference but shared here as a record of my reading:

Preface - The present council wishes to show the "authentic doctrine on divine revelation" that the whole world may hear and believe it.

Chapter 1 - God revealed Himself to us.  In the Old Testament God prepared the way for the promise of the Saviour and the Gospel.  Jesus is the eternal Word, "the Word made flesh".  Jesus fulfilled revelation through his works, deeds, death and resurrection.  No further public revelation will come before the second coming. Man commits himself to God freely and God's divine revelation communicates the decisions regarding eternal salvation.  God can be known through the light of human reason.

Chapter 2 - Jesus orally commissioned the Apostles to preach the Gospel to all men.  This commission was fulfilled and through the Holy Spirit the message was committed to writing. The Apostles handed over their authority to bishops as their successors. The apostolic tradition is preserved by an "unending succession". Through study and contemplation the Church moves forward in divine truth.  Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are divinely connected.  Tradition is the word of God entrusted to Jesus and the Holy Spirit passed on to the Apostles; Scripture is the word of God consigned to writing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore it is not from scripture alone that the Church has knowledge of everything that has been revealed.  The interpretation of the word of God has been given exclusively to the Church who was given the authority by Jesus Christ.  Therefore sacred tradition, sacred scripture and the teaching authority of the Church are linked together as one and cannot stand without each other; they are all under the action of the Holy Spirit working towards the salvation of souls.

Chapter 3 - All scripture, Old and New, was inspired by the Holy Spirit and thus has God as the author.  Therefore all scripture must be without error and is divinely inspired and the writings are for the sake of salvation.  However, since the word of God was transcribed through humans, in order to see it clearly one must take into account what meaning the sacred writers intended and what God wanted manifested by their words.  Also literary forms must be taken into consideration.  All texts are written in different literary forms such as historical, prophetic, poetry, etc and one must take into account the customs and characteristics of the social era in which the sacred writers lived.  Since this is all taken under the guidance of the Holy Spirit all of scripture must be taken as  a whole and it is the duty of the Church to carry on "the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God." 

Chapter 4 - In God's plan of salvation he chose for Himself a people whom he could trust.  He entered a covenant with Abraham, then through Moses , with the people of Israel.  God spoke to them through words, deeds and the mouths of prophets.  The Old Testament, divinely inspired "remain(s) permanently valuable ."  The main purpose of the Old Testament is to prepare the way for the coming of the Christ, messiah and redeemer.  Even though some parts of the OT have been proven by Jesus to be incomplete or temporary and thus shows the mystery of our salvation.  The OT should be read "with reverence".

Chapter 5 - The word was made flesh.  "Christ established the Kingdom of God on Earth". The New Testament is a witness of this history.  The Gospels have a special importance amongst the scriptures. The four Gospels are of apostolic origin. The four Gospels pass on what Jesus actually taught and did for men to acquire eternal salvation.  Each Gospel picks some things from the many but always proclaiming the whole truth.

Chapter 6 - "The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures" and like the Christian religion itself all the preaching of the Church must be nurtured by the Scriptures. The Scriptures should always be easily accessible to all.  The Church guided by the Holy Spirit always wants to move ahead to a deeper understanding of the Scriptures and therefore encourages study of the Fathers of the Church. Theology of the written word together with sacred tradition, in the light of faith constantly strengthens and rejuvenates our understanding of the Word. The clergy, including deacons and teachers of the catechism, must diligently read the Scriptures and continue careful study.  Translations of the Scriptures should include necessary and appropriate explanations and footnotes so that the Children of the Church can become conversant with the Scripture and distribute the word to others.  These footnotes should also be accessible to the non-Christian.  Thus through reading and study of the Scripture the word of God may be spread among the nations.


  1. Is this available online to read or is it only as a book? I'd certainly like to read it -as you say slowly, so that it can be absorbed better.

  2. Mytica, yes! I read it online. Well, I printed it off as it was easier to read that way and I could make notes, etc :-) Here's a link to it right on the vatican's site and I'll put the link in my review. I should have done that in the first place! Hope you get the chance to read it.

    The Year of Faith is opening up a lot of reading opportunities!

  3. http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html


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