Pope Benedict XVI’s New Apostolic Exhortation on the Bible is Here!

Great News!

According to Zenit News Service, Pope Benedict XVI’s long-anticipated Apostolic Exhortation on the Bible, Verbum Domini will be released today, November 11!
The following link will take you to the Exhortation on the Vatican website:

For those of us in Catholic biblical studies circles, this document’s advent is something akin to the coming of the Son of Man. It has long been known that the document would appear—the Synod on the Word of God took place in Fall 2008!—but no one seemed to know either the ‘day or the hour’.

Now we know: Nov 11. It’s not clear from the article whether the English translation will be available next week. Let’s hope so, or some of the cognitive dissonance associated with eschatological delay may well set in for those of us who have been “keeping watch” for what is sure to be an important document on the Bible.

This is curious, since post-synodal apostolic exhortations (think here of Sacrament of Charity) usually take six months or so to be published; this one has taken well over two years! Let’s hope that the delay of the parousia in this case is an indicator that it was well worth the wait. It’s Benedict, after all, so I suspect it will be. Some have speculated that the delay is tied to the debate over inerrancy and interpretation that took place during the synod; I have no way of verifying or falsifying that, but it will be interesting to see whether the exhortation addresses it, since Proposition 12 from the bishops requested clarification on “the inspiration and truth” of Scripture. Will Benedict give it in this exhortation? We’ll find out.

In any case, as far as I know, there hasn’t been a full-length papal document focused solely on Scripture since the publication of Pius XII’s Encylcical Letter, Divino Afflante Spiritu, which was published in 1943. That’s quite some time ago! Not a little exegetical water has passed under the bridge since the Second World War. (To be sure, there have been several lengthy PBC documents, but these are not properly magisterial, as Ratzinger himself points out in the intro. to the 1993 Interpretation of the Bible in the Church.)

So spread the word! And if you happen to be one of my students or friends, don’t email me or call me next Thursday. I’ll be busy reading…