Etymology of Divine Revelation

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Introduction

In Christianity, it is clear that God has made known Himself to humanity. Thus the doctrine of divine revelation is espoused: It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. (DV 1)[1] Further, the Church teaches that it is through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, closely bound together, that this revelatory communication takes place. (cf. DV 9)[2] It is from this point of view that we have looked, in this paper, on the discussion of divine revelation. Realising that this is a wide topic, we have confined ourselves to research and come up with information trying to explain how Sacred Scripture is a requisite for divine revelation fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. This interest arose from reading of a dogmatic article by George Dejaifve, “Revelation and the Church” in the journal: Theology Digest vol. xiv no. 2. This article mainly tries to explain the Church’s perspective as regards her role in the transmission of divine revelation preserved in Sacred Scripture. However, in no way do we separate Scripture from Tradition, rather we present the primacy of Scripture in that it remains first in its order of representing the mystery of salvation/revelation (these terms are used synonymously in our paper). Scripture is the norm of the faith of the Church. Consequently, guided by George’s article, we have presented Scripture as the sole objective testimony of God’s revelation. The work has been divided into two chapters, each with subdivisions. In chapter one, we have explained divine revelation in Scripture: its development. Chapter two brings to light the fulfillment of this revelation in Jesus Christ: the incarnation and later the Church’s involvement as preserver and authentic interpreter of the revealed truth. In this study, our aim has been to try and show how divine revelation started in the Old Testament through creation of a relationship between God and Israel, which was later accomplished in the New Testament in the person of Jesus Christ. A critique in favour of Sacred Scripture as sole objective testimony of divine revelation has been presented at the end.

CHAPTER ONE

DIVINE REVELATION IN SACRED SCRIPTURE

1.1.Etymology of Divine Revelation

Theologising on the themes of revelation is something impossible without a clear explanation of the term revelation in relation to humanity’s receptivity for God. The word revelation is derived from the Latin word revelare. Re-velare is quite specific in concept: it means to take away the velum, or veil, or cover. It means to make known, to reveal openly; what was previously covered and invisible is now “lifted up” into sight.[3]

Consequently, in our context, the term revelare results in a conclusion where it assumes the interpretation of the removal of God’s hiddeness through his self-manifestation to humanity. However, this removal of God’s hiddeness does not mean that we come to know Him fully rather He still remains mysterious. Therefore, as regards divine revelation, it means that the God who was concealed is revealed or manifested.[4] The nineteenth century doctrine, which Vatican I also favoured presented divine revelation to be primarily a communication of supernatural truth inaccessible to natural reason.[5] However, shortly before and after Vatican II, this understanding was complemented further and theologians had to develop a new model of revelation as interpersonal and dialogical[6] where God invites humanity into a communion of life with Himself through Jesus Christ. The two models, that of Vatican I and Vatican II, are not exclusive of each other, but in fact imply one and the same thing, that is, God has revealed Himself. Schmaus describes revelation as a salvific dialogue between God and humanity; the offer of salvation made by a free God to a...
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