Electronic Prayer Book

18. Chief Law of Interpretation

It is evident that the chief law of interpretation is that which enables us to discover and determine what the writer meant to say, as St. Athanasius tells us: “Here, as in all other passages of the divine Scripture, we must observe the occasion of the Apostle’s utterance, and note accurately and carefully the person and the subject which were the cause of his writing, lest ignorance or error concerning these points lead us to misconceive the meaning of the author. . . . Just as the substantial Word of God became like to men in all things, without sin, so the words of God, expressed in human language, became in all things like to human speech, except error. . . . Under the influence of the divine motion he (the sacred writer) uses his own faculties and powers in such a way that from the book which is the fruit of his labour all may easily learn the distinctive genius and the individual characteristics and features of each author.”

POPE PIUS XII (1943)