2010 Conference - How Firm a FoundationDeep in History

Critical Methods of Scripture – Fr. Mitch Pacwa

May 16, 2018 No Comments

In a talk for The Coming Home Network’s 2010 Deep in History conference, Jesuit Bible scholar Fr. Mitch Pacwa looks at different methods for analyzing the Scriptures, and distinguishes between lower and higher criticism. Fr. Pacwa looks at some of the important background knowledge necessary to begin serious Scripture study, and cautions against critical methods that begin with the assumption that the Bible is an unreliable text.

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Resources mentioned:

Pecora Nugent, Madeline. The Divine Office for Dodos: A Step-By-Step Guide to Praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

Pacwa, Mitch. Proclaim Don’t Maintain [Audio]. (Available though parousiamedia.com)

Study Questions:

  • Which problem of Scripture study that Fr. Pacwa mentioned was the most interesting to you and why?  
  • Why was the 19th century a wonderful period for biblical scholarship? 
  • What are the historical-critical methods of a Scripture scholar? Which method was most interesting to you and why?
  • In light of Fr. Pacwa’s description of the ways in which Scripture has been painstakingly translated, interpreted, and handed down throughout the ages in order to produce the books of the Bible we now accept, what are some of the potential disconnects between a sola scriptura approach to the Bible as opposed to the tradition of a spiritually-authoritative Church? Does “Bible alone” theology do Scripture justice? 
  • Why is archaeology important for the understanding of biblical texts?


  • Dead Sea Scrolls: Ancient, mostly Hebrew, manuscripts (of leather, papyrus, and copper) first found in 1947 on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. Encyclopedia Brittanica. 
  • Septuagint: The first translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, made into popular Greek before the Christian era. Catholic Encyclopedia.