Electronic Prayer Book

14. Scripture Supports Scripture

A MAN who thoroughly examines the Holy Scriptures in an endeavour to find the purpose of the author (through whom the Holy Ghost brought Holy Scripture into being), whether he attains this goal or whether he elicits from the words another meaning which is not opposed to the true faith, is free from blame, if he has proof from some other passage of the Holy Scriptures. In fact, the author perhaps saw that very meaning, too, in the same words which we are anxious to interpret. And, certainly, the Spirit of God who produced these words through him also foresaw that this very meaning would occur to the reader or listener; further, He took care that it should occur to him because it also is based upon the truth. For, what could God have provided more generously and more abundantly than that the same words might be understood in several ways, which other supporting testimonies no less divine endorse?

When such a meaning is elicited that its uncertainty cannot be explained by the unerring testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, however, it remains for us to explain it by the proof of reason, even if the man whose words we are seeking to understand were perhaps unaware of that meaning. This, however, is a dangerous practice. It is much safer to walk by means of the Holy Scriptures. When we are trying to search out those passages that are obscured by figurative words, we may either start out from a passage which is not subject to dispute, or, if it is disputed, we may settle the question by employing the testimonies that have been discovered everywhere in the same Scripture.

ST. AUGUSTINE (397)