A Theology of the Christian Bible is built upon the thesis that divine revelation, the inspiration and canonization of Scripture should be viewed as "sequentially linked movements" of a single process wherein God reveals his Word in history and ensures permanent accessibility of revelation for his People, both of Israel and of the Church. The starting point is the view expressed in the Second Vatican Council’s document Dei Verbum that revelation consists of the "words and realities" of Salvation History. This marks a shift away from the neo-scholastic concept that approached revelation primarily as a set of propositional truths. Farkasfalvy begins with the notion of revelation as a historical process: God reveals his Word in a "salvation history," which culminates in the Incarnation. The transmission of revelation always involves human mediation by chosen individuals or, in the language of the biblical and patristic tradition, "Prophets and Apostles." Farkasfalvy then moves on to review some of the major contributors to the theology of inspiration around the time of Vatican II (Bea, Rahner, Alonso-Schökel), the teaching of Dei Verbum proper, and finally the 2014 document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and biblical inspiration and the truth of the Bible, treating each of these in its individual context. According to Farkasfalvy, the theology of inspiration was greatly handicapped by the neo-scholastic notion of God as a "literary author" of the scriptural texts. Advocating God as true and genuine "author" of Scripture, but in a non-literary sense, Farkasfalvy also reviews afresh the tradition inspiration-incarnation analogy. Scripture should be thought of in light of God progressively revealing himself in limited and located contexts to chosen human beings, through whom revelation is transmitted in verbal and, eventually, written form. God guides the complex compositional processes of the biblical books so that his word becomes accessibly and permanently preserved in writing for his people, the Church. The final chapters of A Theology of the Christian Bible take up the extension of these dynamics into canonization. These largely exegetical and historical chapters focus on the transmission of the revelation in Christ through both Testaments by means of Jesus’ Apostles, embracing the Hebrew Scriptures and setting in motion the formation and, in early patristics, the canonization of the New Testament.
"Destined to be recognized as an epochal achievement in the history of modern theology. Farkasfalvy retrieves and develops patristic conceptions of the Incarnational form and Christological telos of scripture, divine condescension, and divine anagogical pedagogy, in a creative synthesis that is deeply traditional in its content and boldly innovative in its formulation. Provides an urgently needed and brilliantly luminous account of how we can reasonably affirm that the canonical scriptures bear the treasure of God's inerrant and efficaciously transformative Word of self-disclosure within the fragility of earthen vessels."~Khaled Anatolios, author of Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine
"If you think that developing a post-conciliar theory of biblical inspiration is either of necessity defensive or hermeneutically naive, then you will be surprised at the capaciousness of this remarkable work. Fr. Denis Farkasfalvy, O.Cist., presents sober reflections that reflect a life's labor. Neither exegetes nor systematicians will be able to sidestep the lucid arguments of this slim volume. The connection between Christ's condescension and theories of biblical criticism is sharp, precise, and timely. All future attempts to understand the truth of and in the Bible will need to go through this path."~Peter Casarella, University of Notre Dame
"Vatican II’s Dei Verbum is the most important Catholic text on the Bible in modern times, yet much of the theological task it places before the church has yet to be fulfilled. In this lucid synthetic account of revelation, inspiration, and canon, Fr. Denis Farkasfalvy shows how Catholic theology and biblical studies can take up neglected demands of Dei Verbum. Fr. Denis was in St. Peter’s to hear Pope John XXIII open the Second Vatican Council and served more than a decade on the Pontifical Biblical Commission under John Paul II and Benedict XVI. This is a book only he could have written, a crowning achievement of a life dedicated to biblical scholarship in the service of the church."~Bruce D. Marshall, Southern Methodist University
"There is no Catholic theologian better qualified to write a theology of scripture than Abbot Farkasfalvy. Clearly the fruit of a lifetime and study and contemplation, A Theology of the Christian Bible brings together an expert's knowledge of second-century canon formation, a rare familiarity with modern theories of divine authorship both before and after Vatican II, and an insider's perspective on achievements and limitations of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. For its challenge to scholarly consensus on the gradually evolving canon, its personalist recasting of the truth of scripture, and countless other reasons, this book richly rewards its readers."~Aaron Pidel, Marquette University
"This book is an earnest Roman Catholic theology of Christian Scripture. It expounds the three topics of revelation, inspiration and canon, but its originality is concentrated on the middle topic, which is where this review will focus. The author is deeply immersed in the Roman Catholic conciliar tradition, and his target audience is clearly his own ecclesial community. His fundamental deference to magisterial teaching is never in question. Yet he is an utterly acute reader of these documents, and he subjects them to demanding critical standar... Whether a reader is a member of Farkasfalvy’s own Roman Catholic communion, a separated brother or sister, a Christian from yet another tradition, or an interested outsider, such a reader should expect to learn a great deal from this book."~International Journal of Systematic Theology