Revelation, Scripture and Tradition: Lessons from Vatican II's Constitution Dei verbum for Contemporary Theology



For Roman Catholic systematic theology, any reflection on the relation between revelation, Scripture and tradition has to take into account the dogmatic constitution of the Second Vatican Council concerning this theme: Dei verbum. In this document, the dialogical nature of these fundamental theological concepts has been accentuated. Revelation, but also Scripture and tradition, are historical dynamic givens that reveal a salvific God at work in our history, both through Christ and in the Spirit. In conversation with Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, both the coming into being of this document and its main assets are discussed. Moreover, it will be Dei verbum's reception, and especially the difficulties subsequently encountered to uphold and institutionally anchor the dialogical nature of revelation, tradition, theology and the magisterium that are also commented upon. Inasmuch, however, as Dei verbum has become a part of tradition for the Roman Catholic Church, a reading and rereading of this tradition requires the same dialogical hermeneutical principles which Dei verbum itself presents and requires.