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Edward Ovchinnikov
Edward Ovchinnikov

Holy Writ



Holy Writ has been used in English as a synonym for Bible for more than a thousand years. The term traces to the Venerable Bede, an 8th-century Anglo-Saxon scholar, historian, and theologian who wrote a history of England in which he dated events from the birth of Christ. Bede's history was translated from Latin to English around the year 900, and it is in that translated text that we find the earliest evidence for holy writ. William Shakespeare used holy writ in Othello: "Trifles light as air are to the jealous confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ." And Alexander Pope used it in his Wife of Bath: "And close the sermon, as beseem'd his wit, with some grave sentence out of holy writ."




holy writ



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"Scripture" (or "scriptures") is a subset of religious texts considered to be "especially authoritative",[5][6] revered and "holy writ",[7] "sacred, canonical", or of "supreme authority, special status" to a religious community.[8][9] The terms sacred text and religious text are not necessarily interchangeable in that some religious texts are believed to be sacred because of the belief in some theistic religions such as the Abrahamic religions that the text is divinely or supernaturally revealed or divinely inspired, or in non-theistic religions such as some Indian religions they are considered to be the central tenets of their eternal Dharma. In contrast to sacred texts, many religious texts are simply narratives or discussions pertaining to the general themes, interpretations, practices, or important figures of the specific religion.


In some religions (e.g. Christianity), the canonical texts include a particular text (Bible) but is "an unsettled question", according to Eugene Nida. In others (Hinduism, Buddhism), there "has never been a definitive canon".[10][11] While the term scripture is derived from the Latin scriptura, meaning "writing", most sacred scriptures of the world's major religions were originally a part of their oral tradition, and were "passed down through memorization from generation to generation until they were finally committed to writing", according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.[7][12][13]


Religious texts also serve a ceremonial and liturgical role, particularly in relation to sacred time, the liturgical year, the divine efficacy and subsequent holy service; in a more general sense, its performance.[citation needed]


There are many possible dates given to the first writings which can be connected to Talmudic and Biblical traditions, the earliest of which is found in scribal documentation of the 8th century BCE,[27] followed by administrative documentation from temples of the 5th and 6th centuries BCE,[28] with another common date being the 2nd century BCE.[28] Although a significant text in the history of religious text because of its widespread use among religious denominations and its continued use throughout history, the texts of the Abrahamic traditions are a good example of the lack of certainty surrounding dates and definitions of religious texts.


High rates of mass production and distribution of religious texts did not begin until the invention of the printing press in 1440,[29] before which all religious texts were hand written copies, of which there were relatively limited quantities in circulation.


According to one opinion the Torah was written on separate parchments in separate installments throughout the sojourn in the wilderness. These segments were then assembled at the end of the forty years, before crossing into the Land of Israel.


The other view expressed by the Sages is that the entire Torah was dictated by G-d to Moses at one time, and not in installments of separate scrolls. Accordingly, the Torah was written at the end of the fortieth year in the wilderness, just prior to the death of Moses.


The pamphlet is supposed to have been written by Chrysostomus Dudulaeus of Westphalia and printed by one Christoff Crutzer, but as no such author or printer is known at this time - the latter name indeed refers directly to the legend - it has been conjectured that the whole story is a myth invented to support the Protestant contention of a continuous witness to the truth of Holy Writ in the person of this "eternal" Jew; he was to form, in his way, a counterpart to the apostolic tradition of the Catholic Church.


Objection 1: It would seem that knowledge of all Holy Writ is required. For one from whose lips we seek the law, should have knowledge of the law. Now the laity seek the law at the mouth of the priest (Malachi 2:7). Therefore he should have knowledge of the whole law. Objection 2: Further, "being always ready to satisfy everyone that asketh you a reason of that faith and hope in you [*Vulg.: 'Of that hope which is in you; St. Thomas apparently took his reading from Bede]." Now to give a reason for things pertaining to faith and hope belongs to those who have perfect knowledge of Holy Writ. Therefore the like knowledge should be possessed by those who are placed in Orders, and to whom the aforesaid words are addressed. Objection 3: Further, no one is competent to read what he understands not, since to read without intelligence is "negligence,"* as Cato declares (Rudiment.). [*"Legere et non intelligere est negligere." The play on the words is more evident in Latin.] Now it belongs to the reader (which is the lower Order) to read the Old Testament, as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24). Therefore he should understand the whole of the Old Testament; and much more those in the higher Orders. On the contrary, Many are raised to the priesthood even who know nothing at all of these things, even in many religious Orders. Therefore apparently this knowledge is not required. Further, we read in the Lives of the Fathers that some who were monks were raised to the priesthood, being of a most holy life. Therefore the aforesaid knowledge is not required in those to be ordained. I answer that, For any human act to be rightly ordered there must needs be the direction of reason. Wherefore in order that a man exercise the office of an Order, it is necessary for him to have as much knowledge as suffices for his direction in the act of that Order. And consequently one who is to be raised to Orders is required to have that knowledge, and to be instructed in Sacred Scripture, not the whole, but more or less, according as his office is of a greater or lesser extent---to wit, that those who are placed over others, and receive the care of souls, know things pertaining to the doctrine of faith and morals, and that others know whatever concerns the exercise of their Order. Reply to Objection 1: A priest exercises a twofold action: the one, which is principal, over the true body of Christ; the other, which is secondary, over the mystical body of Christ. The second act depends on the first, but not conversely. Wherefore some are raised to the priesthood, to whom the first act alone is deputed, for instance those religious who are not empowered with the care of souls. The law is not sought at the mouth of these, they are required only for the celebration of the sacraments; and consequently it is enough for them to have such knowledge as enables them to observe rightly those things that regard the celebration of the sacrament. Others are raised to exercise the other act which is over the mystical body of Christ, and it is at the mouth of these that the people seek the law; wherefore they ought to possess knowledge of the law, not indeed to know all the difficult points of the law (for in these they should have recourse to their superiors), but to know what the people have to believe and fulfill in the law. To the higher priests, namely the bishops, it belongs to know even those points of the law which may offer some difficulty, and to know them the more perfectly according as they are in a higher position. Reply to Objection 2: The reason that we have to give for our faith and hope does not denote one that suffices to prove matters of faith and hope, since they are both of things invisible; it means that we should be able to give general proofs of the probability of both, and for this there is not much need of great knowledge. Reply to Objection 3: The reader has not to explain Holy Writ to the people (for this belongs to the higher orders), but merely to voice the words. Therefore he is not required to have so much knowledge as to understand Holy Writ, but only to know how to pronounce it correctly. And since such knowledge is obtained easily and from many persons, it may be supposed with probability that the ordained will acquire that knowledge even if he have it not already, especially if it appear that he is on the road to acquire it. Index []Supplement []Question: 36 []Article: 3 []


Objection 1: It would seem that a man obtains the degrees of order by the mere merit of his life. For, according to Chrysostom [*Hom. xliii in the Opus Imperfectum, wrongly ascribed to St. John Chrysostom], "not every priest is a saint, but every saint is a priest." Now a man becomes a saint by the merit of his life. Consequently he thereby also becomes a priest, and "a fortiori" has he the other Orders. Objection 2: Further, in natural things, men obtain a higher degree from the very fact that they are near God, and have a greater share of His favors, as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iv). Now it is by merit of holiness and knowledge that a man approaches nearer to God and receives more of His favors. Therefore by this alone he is raised to the degree of Orders. On the contrary, Holiness once possessed can be lost. But when once a man is ordained he never loses his order. Therefore order does not consist in the mere merit of holiness. I answer that, A cause should be proportionate to its effect. And consequently as in Christ, from Whom grace comes down on all men, there must needs be fulness of grace; so in the ministers of the Church, to whom it belongs, not to give grace, but to give the sacraments of grace, the degree of order does not result from their having grace, but from their participating in a sacrament of grace. Reply to Objection 1: Chrysostom is speaking of the priest in reference to the reason for which he is so called, the word "sacerdos" signifying dispenser of holy things [sacra dans]: for in this sense every righteous man, in so far as he assists others by the sacraments, may be called a priest. But he is not speaking according to the actual meaning of the words; for this word "sacerdos" [priest] is employed to signify one who gives sacred things by dispensing the sacraments. Reply to Objection 2: Natural things acquire a degree of superiority over others, from the fact that they are able to act on them by virtue of their form; wherefore from the very fact that they have a higher form, they obtain a higher degree. But the ministers of the Church are placed over others, not to confer anything on them by virtue of their own holiness (for this belongs to God alone), but as ministers, and as instruments, so to say, of the outpouring from the Head to the members. Hence the comparison fails as regards the dignity of Order, although it applies as to congruity. Index []Supplement []Question: 36 []Article: 4 [] 041b061a72


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