There is often a piecemeal approach to Scripture. People are confused because they take bits and pieces of Scripture, or they pick and choose the Scripture passages to suit their own purposes. These commit a serious fallacy, presenting an imprecise and erroneous way to approach Scripture. Scripture is not considered in its entirety and as a whole.

For example, people argue that to be Christian means that there are dietary laws that we would have to follow. The laws of Leviticus 11 for example – “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: Of all land animals these are the ones you may eat:

Any animal that has hoofs you may eat, provided it is cloven-footed and chews the cud.

But you shall not eat any of the following from among those that only chew the cud or only have hoofs: the camel, which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you.”

However, to focus merely on this passage, negates the fact that Leviticus is a historical text that records what was needful at the time of Moses in order to preserve the Israelites as a tribe in the wilderness. As the Israelites became more established, these dietary requirements became more refined along the way. In the time of the New Testament, Jesus Himself declares in Scripture, ‘Do you not realise that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)’ (Mark 7: 18-20)

This is affirmed in Acts 10: 9-16, via the Divine revelation that Peter received,  “The next day, while they were on their way and nearing the city, Peter went up to the roof terrace to pray at about noontime. He was hungry and wished to eat, and while they were making preparations he fell into a trance.

He saw heaven opened and something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all the earth’s four-legged animals and reptiles and the birds of the sky.

A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.”

But Peter said, “Certainly not, sir. For never have I eaten anything profane and unclean.”

The voice spoke to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.”

This happened three times, and then the object was taken up into the sky.”

Subsequently in Romans 14:14-15, “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; still, it is unclean for someone who thinks it unclean.  If your brother is being hurt by what you eat, your conduct is no longer in accord with love. Do not because of your food destroy him for whom Christ died.”

In the dogmatic constitution, Dei Verbum, by Pope Paul VI (1965), we come to understand that “Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit, the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort.” (chapter 2, para. 10)

This means that Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterial teaching of the Church are interwoven together and cannot be interpreted alone by themselves. These are, “so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.” (Pope Paul VI, 1965, chapter 2, para. 10)

Dei Verbum goes on to clarify that

  1. God is the author of Sacred Scripture. Various people were handpicked by God and employed by Him to use their faculties in a way that allowed God to act and move through them, so that these people became consigned to writing all the things found in Scripture and only the things that God wanted them to write.
  2. As Scripture is inspired and asserted by the Holy Spirit, it teaches without error the truth that God wanted to put into writing.
  3. To truly understand the nuances of Scripture, we must be cognizant to the context as to why and how certain texts were written, and to pay special attention to the intention of particular styles, symbolism, and what the writer intended to convey.
  4. The scriptural writers deployed literary devices and conventions that were salient during their time. In understanding Scripture, we need to understand the literary forms behind the poetic, prosaic, literary, historical, and prophetic discourses in the Bible. To understand why a particular text is written in a way, requires an excavation of the socio-cultural and customary means of writing, story-telling, documenting, narrating, and speaking in the everyday of the period in concern.
  5. Dei Verbum also states clearly: “…since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, (9) no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God. (10)” (Chapter 3, para. 12)

(Pope Paul Vi, 1965)

Thus we are reminded that while interpretating Scripture, we cannot read Scripture in sequestration or isolation. It has to be considered intact and in relation to the teaching of the Church and the Sacred Tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. Scripture has to be considered in its fullness, and in unity of the entirety of the Bible. Scripture is not just a collection of texts. We need to remember that it is an organic whole that has come into being over the course of millennia.

To take only the fragments and parts of Scripture without these considerations, takes away from the true richness and diminishes the treasure that Scripture offers us.

The image of Jesus at His Transfiguration sums up what is meant when we talk about the unity of Scripture. Jesus the Living Word is in the centre. He is flanked by Moses and Elijah, and at his feet, his disciples – Jesus the same, yesterday, today, forever, in the same space with the unfolding of Salvation History and the perfection of the Law of God, the Prophets, and the Disciples, the future of the Church.


By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan



Pope Paul VI. (1965). Dei Verbum. [Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation]. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved from