If you’d like to intensify your Holy Week, consider watching the Genesis to Jesus video Bible study by the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Until Easter Sunday, the videos are available to view online for free.
Created by Catholic convert and renown theologian Scott Hahn, Genesis to Jesus is the third installment in his Journey Through Scripture series. The first two installments in the series are The Bible and the Virgin Mary and The Bible and the Sacraments.
Genesis to Jesus covers salvation history and discusses the purpose of the Bible and how Catholics should read it. Like the previous two video Bible studies, Genesis to Jesus offers an engaging way to learn about the Word of God.
Catholic Digest spoke with Hahn about Genesis to Jesus and why Catholics get unfairly accused of not knowing the Bible. Hahn shared his expertise on Scripture and how Catholics can improve their understanding of it.
Q: Why should Catholics study the Bible?
A: There is only one God, and he inspired only one book. We face so many questions as we go through life, and it seems like this should be the most reliable source for answers.
Q: Catholics have the reputation of not being Bible savvy. Do you think we deserve this?
A: But Catholics do know the Bible. They know the stories. They know the overarching story. They know their place in it. The difference is in how we learn it. Catholics have much more Scripture in our Sunday worship than Protestants do. We have three readings — if you include the Psalm — and one from the Gospel, plus all the dozens of verses scattered throughout the prayers, so we absorb the Scriptures in a passive way. Highly-motivated evangelicals will pursue their knowledge in an active way, attending a Bible study and committing particular verses to memory. Protestants can more often cite chapter and verse, whereas Catholics don’t.
When I was a kid, I marveled at the way my postman knew the address of every family in our neighborhood. I didn’t know their addresses, so it seemed that he knew the families better than I did. But he didn’t. Because I knew the insides of their homes. I knew their favorite foods and games. I knew the photos on their walls and the sounds of all their voices.
Catholics do have an inferiority complex about the Bible that they don’t really deserve. Still, I think there’s much they can learn from Protestants. We have better reasons to take up Bible study and even commit our favorite verses to memory.
Q: What do you think is the biggest mistake Catholics make when it comes to reading Scripture?
A: Not doing it. It’s one of those things that just seems too hard. We say we’ll take it up when we retire and have fewer distractions. Well, distractions are always with us but good eyesight isn’t. The earlier we start, the more time we’ll have to grow wise and apply that wisdom to our relationships.
Q: In the first lesson of Genesis to Jesus, we hear that Mass is the key to understanding the Bible. Why?
A: The Scriptures weren’t written primarily for private study. Their original purpose was public proclamation. They were part of the ritual public worship of the People of God. The books of the Bible were canonized for that purpose. These are the books the churches are allowed to read at Mass. Other books may be good and helpful and beautiful, but only these can be read from the ambo. The Mass is the Bible’s natural and supernatural habitat. It’s a graced moment, established by God, for the sake of our salvation.
Q: Why do we need to read the New Testament through the lens of the Old Testament?
A: Because that’s the way God presents our salvation. Jesus understood his mission in a historical context that reached back to the first moment of creation. He spoke often of the law, the prophets, and the writings of the Old Testament. We imitate him when we read those ancient books, but we also acquire the mind of Christ as we read them with greater devotion. We think the way he thinks.
Q: Is salvation history part of the past or is it still going on right now?
A: It’s still going on, of course. The Bible ends with the Book of Revelation, which describes all subsequent history yet to unfold. God is still working, in all the same old ways, in my life and yours.
Q: Is Journey Through Scripture series meant for adults or can families with children benefit from the program?
A: It’s a serious study, but I think children will absorb most of it. If you watch the videos as a family, you’ll have common touchstones for later conversations — even much later in life. It would be wrong to expect children to have an adult understanding, but they’ll remember something, and that’s better than nothing. And you never know what the Holy Spirit will accomplish in a young heart. The Bible is, in the words of the ancients, a river in which a gnat can swim, and an elephant can drown.