The Old Testament in the Heart of the Catholic Church
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God first makes himself known

a.   after the Fall.
b.   in the beginning.
c.   to Adam and Eve.


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God begins to reveal himself in the very act of creation. He is the Creator. All created realities reveal his presence. <<

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God reveals himself to man

a.   but only in his deeds.
b.   but only in his words.
c.   in his words and deeds.

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God manifested himself to our first parents

a.   from the very beginning.
b.   only after their Fall.
c.   sometime before their Fall.

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After the Fall, God

a.   abandoned man to his dreadful sins by speaking words of eternal doom.
b.   buoyed our first parents up with the hope of salvation by promising redemption.
c.   was hidden and silent so that man could not find him for a very long time.

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Read Gen 3:15. The Church sees in this verse God's promise to our first parents. God immediately continues to reveal himself to them even after their Fall. God promises that the ''seed'' of the woman (mankind descended from Eve) will eventually gain the victory over the powers of evil.

A further and the fullest meaning in this passage is typological and thus relates to Christ. In fact this passage is called the ''Protoevangelium'' (''first gospel''). [CCC 410] Christ is the new man, the New Adam, who by his obedience will superabundantly make up for Adam's disobedience and thus decisively and forever defeat the powers of evil. Just as the Church sees Christ present ''in the beginning,'' she sees God promise Adam and Eve, immediately after the Fall, that Christ will come to deliver mankind from death and all the other powers of evil.

Also, many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary. [CCC 411] Christ is the ''seed'' of Mary, the new Eve. (Thus, there are many pictures and statues of Mary crushing the head of a serpent under her heel). <<

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Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy || Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings || 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah || Tobit* Judith* Esther 1 Maccabees* 2 Maccabees* Job


Proverbs Ecclesiastes Song of Songs Wisdom* Sirach* || Isaiah >> Jeremiah << Lamentations Baruch* Ezekiel Daniel || Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi

The Old Testament books with a star * are not any more or less important than the others. The star indicates that the Catholic Church definitively professes and knows these books to be part of the sacred writings, the inspired Word of God [cf. CCC 120], but that they are specifically rejected by the Jewish people, and called ''apocryphal'' (of doubtful inspiration) by Protestants.

Read the prophet Jeremiah's call from God, Jer 1:4-19. Now read Jer 15:10-18. From these passages it is apparent that Jeremiah

a.   answered God's call reluctantly and felt fierce opposition to his message.
b.   did not hear God's call until late in life and his message was well-received.
c.   found it very difficult to be eloquent and never spoke about his own fate.

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Jeremiah lived during the time that Jerusalem was invaded and destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC. Read Jer 7, one of the most famous of Jeremiah's sermons, which outlines his basic message. It is:

a.   God is pleased with moderation and prudence in worldly affairs.
b.   Reform your lives and believe, or even the Temple will be destroyed.
c.   The Temple can not be destroyed, but God is greatly displeased.

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Read Jer 36:1-8. Jeremiah had a secretary who wrote down many of his prophecies. These became the foundation of the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah's secretary was

a.   Baruch.
b.   Josiah.
c.   Neriah.

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Jeremiah had prophesied that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed, and it happened as Jeremiah had foretold, but there are passages in Jeremiah that are prophesies of great hope, especially chapters 30-31. The people will return from their exile. Read Jer 30:1-22.

However, the most famous and important prophecy from Jeremiah from the point of view of the Catholic Church is contained in Jer 31:31-34, the prophecy of the new covenant. A new covenant is coming in which the law will be kept because of God's intervention. He himself will give men the power to respond to his holiness.

Catholics call this power to keep covenant with God and be in intimate union with him, brought about by the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, grace. Read Jer 31:31-34. St. Paul in 2 Cor 3-5 and the author of the letter to the Hebrews in Heb 8:6-9:15 explicitly use Jeremiah's prophecy of the new covenant to develop central doctrines of the Catholic faith.

(For additional context, you may read these chapters from second Corinthians and Hebrews now, if you like).

Many details of Jeremiah's life are included in the book of Jeremiah - even many details of his feelings, as in the passage Jer 15:10-18. He was eloquent, sensitive, and did not want to be a prophet, but he was called by God to criticize kings, excoriate the morals and the worship of both people and priests, and prophesy doom and destruction for both the nation and the Temple.

He was absolutely right, but his reward during his lifetime (as the book of Jeremiah records) was that his own relatives plotted his death, and that he was nearly executed for blasphemy against the Temple. He had to be in hiding for years at a time, and legend has it that he was killed by his own people while living in hiding in Egypt. <<

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Any man's ideas can be full of error, and also, men's ideas disagree. As men sincerely labor to discover the Bible's meaning more and more deeply, bad mistakes can still be made. To give man what he needs to study the truth of the Bible, God himself is content to

a.   have specially-appointed Roman Catholic bishops look up the answer to each question in a book titled, ''What the Bible REALLY Means.''
b.   rely on a standing committee of the best bible scholars of each particular time, who have met at least once every five years since 813 AD.
c.   speak through the judgments of the successor of St. Peter (the Holy Father), and Catholic bishops who are in communion with him.

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Read Ps 78. Now re-read Ps 78:56-72. The psalmist says that the sinfulness of the people caused God to forsake his dwelling at Shiloh and to choose the tribe of Judah and the city of Jerusalem for his dwelling. Many scholars think that by pointedly making the reference to Shiloh, the psalmist not only praises Jerusalem and Judah but also implies that

a.   Jerusalem and Judah will keep covenant with the Lord faithfully forever.
b.   no amount of sinfulness could cause God to abandon Judah and Jerusalem.
c.   the sinfulness of the people might cause God to abandon Judah and Jerusalem.

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All Israel (that is, the Kingdom of Judah) is under the control of the ''king of the Chaldeans,'' the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. The prophet Jeremiah has previously counseled Zedekiah to submit to Babylon's rule. Read Jeremiah, Jer 25:1-11. Now read Second Chronicles, 2 Chr 36:11-21. Also, compare this passage to Ps 78:62-64. What happens to Jerusalem?

a.   it and the Temple are destroyed, and its people are killed or taken as slaves.
b.   it endures a great battle and severe trials, but its people emerge unscathed.
c.   it remains unshaken by the trials going around it, because of God's help.

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Read Ps 137. The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and the exile in Babylon

a.   caused all the people of Israel to abandon God.
b.   had a very deep effect on the people of Israel.
c.   had very little effect on the people of Israel.

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Read 2 Chr 36:22-23. Did the Babylonian captivity ever end, and were Jerusalem and the Temple eventually rebuilt?

a.   Maybe.
b.   No.
c.   Yes.

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Read Ezra 3. Read Nehemiah, Neh 8:1-11. After the Exile, the people of Israel

a.   did not rebuild the Temple but began again to hear and understand the Law.
b.   rebuilt the Temple and began again to hear and understand the Law.
c.   rebuilt the Temple but failed again to hear and understand the Law.

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Every year, three great festivals were celebrated in the Temple and its surrounding court. Passover was the first, in the spring. Now read Tobit, Tob 2:1. Pentecost was the next great feast, celebrated seven weeks after Passover. Read Deuteronomy, Deut 16:13-15. Finally, Ingathering or the Feast of Booths was celebrated in the fall.

The ''bread of the Presence'' or showbread consisted of twelve loaves of unleavened bread that were brought every Sabbath and set aside on a special table for the priests. The bread of the Presence was a reminder of the LORD's covenant with the twelve tribes of Israel. Read Leviticus, Lev 24:5-9.

From CCC 2581:

''For the People of God, the Temple was to be the place of their education in prayer: pilgrimages, feasts and sacrifices, the evening offering, the incense, and the bread of the Presence (''shewbread'') - all these signs of the holiness and glory of God Most High and Most Near were appeals to and ways of prayer.'' <<

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When Israel returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the Temple, they

a.   kept covenant with God with imperfect purity thereafter.
b.   kept covenant with God with perfect purity thereafter.
c.   kept no further covenant with God thereafter.

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Marcion wanted to throw out parts of the Bible because

a.   he hated all Christians, and wanted to tell them something that would lead them away from Christ.
b.   he was poorly educated, insane, and had lost the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
c.   those parts of the Bible contradicted what he considered to be the true message of Christianity.

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The Church teaches [CCC 846] that, if you are a person who understands that union with the Catholic Church is necessary for union with Christ (salvation), and you then turn your back on the Catholic Church, then

a.   Christ in his infinite mercy will send the Holy Spirit to keep you close to him regardless.
b.   the saints will pray so fervently that you will be forced to turn back to the Church.
c.   you really do have freedom and you really will get your wish - you will not be saved.

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copyright (c) 2001 John Kelleher. All rights reserved.