The Dead Sea Scrolls document acceptance of various versions of the Scriptures at the time of Jesus.  This means that the New American Bible used in the Lectionary is correct to use the best ancient texts available, rather than one or another of the ancient texts as all other English translations do.  Through Jerome’s Nova Vulgata, Douay-Rheims uses the Septuagint.  The King James uses the Septuagint without benefit of Jerome.  Both the New Revised Standard Version and Jerusalem translations draw from the Hebrew.[1]


The Nova Vulgata drew from the Hebrew, but without the variety of ancient texts available today.  Contemporary scholars, translating from the more ancient texts, tend to bypass the Nova Vulgata.  The Magisterium has ordered the Nova Vulgata the authentic text, unless there is good reason to use another.


One ramification of the Dead Sea scrolls is that the sense of the Faithful participated with the Magisterium determining what to keep and what to discard.  Before there was a modern Magisterium, the sense of the Faithful determined which texts were useful for finding God and which not.  The Dead Sea Scrolls turn up some manuscripts that strongly agree with accepted translations, but other manuscripts decidedly disagree, manuscripts that seem more authentic than what Jerome accepted.


The earliest document for the Masoretic (MT), or Hebrew, text only dates from 1009.  Before World War II, until the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars regarded the MT as most authentic.  The Dead Sea Scrolls show that what was handed down in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) was often more authentic than the Masoretic texts.  The Faithful now have a problem.


The role of the Faithful determining which texts to accept is upsetting, because the role of the Faithful functioned for years without benefit of the modern Magisterium.  This is troublesome, for example, not only in the area of scripture study, but also in the area of responsible (artificial) family planning, i.e. birth control, because polls show that more than eighty-five percent of Catholics in the United States do not consider use of artificial means of birth control as sinful.  The point is that not only must the modern Magisterium propose, but also the Faithful must endorse doctrine.  The Church truly learns from human experience.[2]


The Magisterium is not always consistent.  The Magisterium made a major change in the Twentieth Century, from rejecting to accepting historical-critical scholarship.  Ramifications of the role of the Faithful determining what to accept within the context of the Magisterium is not a matter of systematic theology.  Such ramifications, however, do look like one consequence of Scripture study.  Eugene Ulrich, of the University of Notre Dame, makes the leap from Scripture to moral theology.  Ulrich wrote the January 2004 the Catholic Biblical Quarterly article setting up the Notes.  Ulrich writes, “Revelation and inspiration have been democratized.”  Such democratization forces the Faithful to take greater responsibility for what they believe.[3]


The people, Faithful or not, are not God.  To make the point, my students and I developed the following saying, “The people are gross, crass and greedy; rude, crude, and lewd; given a chance, and they will kill you and shoot themselves in the foot.”  Just where are the lines of sin?  In these readings, Isaiah, Paul, and Peter all shudder at their own sinfulness.  For humans, achievement almost builds on failure.  I used to enjoy saying to my students that the difference between them on one side of the desk and me on the other was that I had made more mistakes than they had, albeit not the same mistakes repeatedly.  In the spiritual life, such mistakes are sins.


Saint Paul goes on to teach that grace, earned by Christ, furnishes the way through sin.  Isaiah portrays his ability to preach as miraculous, a gift of the angels.  Saint Peter never seems to understand anything, as he witnesses to the Christ eventually to proclaim what he saw and heard.[4]


Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli, S.T.D., S.S.L, D.D.: in the Lectionary, Psalm 138 verse 7 is 7c, verse 8 on pages 557 and 736 does not agree with verse 8 on page 785.  Verse 8 does not agree with itself on page 785, being only 8 b c in the Responsorial antiphon, yet 8, without qualification, in the verse.


Isaiah 6: 1-2a, 3-8


Isaiah is specific about time and place,[5] meaning that the development of Scriptures takes place within a human environment, somewhat independent of the Magisterium.  The Faithful seem to have a role endorsing what develops and how it develops from a particular time and place.  In this case, the Faithful endorse the presence of angels.


These readings lay out the vocations of holy men.  Isaiah wants to do it, `Here I am Lord, send me.’  Paul is successful despite himself.  Peter seems to have nothing cerebral going on as he joins in the witness to the Christ.  Peter is the most attractive of the three, simply serving as a witness, without trying to judge anything.  The Dead Sea Scrolls are teaching the Faithful to be less judgmental about the authentic Word of God.


For prophets there is always something hidden.  Revelation seems to require something of concealment and silence.[6]  Such concealment and silence leaves room for Faith and for the changing understanding of Faith itself.


Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8 (1c)


The Lectionary uses this Psalm in the following places:


Readings      Page in         Verses used



        75C       557               1-2, 2-3, 4-5,     7-8  (1 c)             Today

      111C       736               1-2, 2-3, 4-5,     7-8  (3 a)             Ordinary 17

       121A      785               1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6,    8 (8 b c)           Ordinary 21


This psalm brings in the angels as an audience for human song.  Grace is the reason for the ability to sing before the angels.  The Latin for give thanks is confitebor, with a sense of admitting that the Lord is God and praiseworthy.  Translations vary.


Verses 1 and 2

Lectionary (1998):                        give thanks … give thanks

The Vulgate (circa 410):               confitebor … confitebor

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610):        praise … praise (Psalm 136)

King James (1611):                      give thanks … give thanks (Psalm 135)

Jerusalem (1966):                        thank … give thanks

New American (1970):                 thank … praise

This is different from the Lectionary.

New Jerusalem (1985):                thank … praise


In verse 8 the Psalmist refers to himself as part of the wonders of Creation, `the work of his hands.’[7]  Self-esteem emanating from this wonder serves to aid the Faithful through the uncertainties of life, death, and everything in between.


1 Corinthians 15:1-11


Corinthians 15:1-4 is used in Pastoral Care of the Sick, Part III: Readings, Responses, and Verses from Sacred Scripture, New Testament Readings, L For the dying.[8]  Especially the Faithful who grew in the triumphal Church, those now dying over the age of sixty, those Faithful can afford to be less judgmental of themselves, especially in light of discoveries from the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Facing death with the comfort of Isaac can be a comfort.  The faith expressed in verse 3 of Christ dying for the sins of the Faithful is the faith in the sacrifice of Isaac.  Such a sense of sacrifice hovers about Pauline and New Testament theology.[9]


In this letter, Saint Paul draws from what the Faithful endorse and pass along to him.  He first received even his Jerusalem material from the Greek-speaking Syrian Church.[10]  The profession of Faith is not the language Paul ordinarily uses.  The Faithful may have used this profession at Baptism, but not at the Eucharist.  The dual phrase, `in accord with the Scriptures’ is unlike Paul.  Paul does not repeat himself in this manner.  The Faithful had a role endorsing what Paul, then, used.


The Faithful used to think of in accord with the Scriptures as referring to different passages, rather than different renditions of the same passage.  The Dead Sea Scrolls are teaching the Faithful to include different renditions of the same passage, as described above.  These Scriptures may account for why the New Testament never quotes the First Testament exactly word-for-word.  The different renditions made an exact quotation impossible.


Died according to the Scriptures influenced Mark 14, as a result of Paul’s admonition that the communion meal of the early Church should include a reflection on the meaning of Christ’s death.[11]  Since 1 Cor 15:3 is part of the prayers for the dying in Pastoral Care for the Sick connecting the death of Jesus with the deaths of the Faithful is appropriate.  These readings form a preparation for a happy death.


Cephas, or Rocky in verse 5 is Peter.  Paul usually refers to Peter as Rocky (1 Cor 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5 and the better readings in Gal 2:7b-8).  The immediate past Superior General of the Josephite Fathers and Brothers, the Very Reverend Robert Kearns, S.S.J., was known as Rocky from his youth.  The Josephite Rocky, however, was a good student.  There is no evidence in the Pauline letters for a unique role of leadership for Peter.[12]


This section on Peter is related to the Magisterium.  Mark 16:7 and 18:28 seem to build on this passage from Corinthians to show a primacy for Peter[13] that Paul never bothers to express.  For Paul, the issue is not human primacy, but rather the primacy of God and Faith in what God reveals.


Relative to belief, Saint Jerome uses one of his few exclamation points in this reading in verse 2.  No one else does.


Lectionary (1998):                        unless you believed in vain.

The Vulgate (circa 410):               nisi si frustra credidistis!

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610):        unless you have believed in vain.

King James (1611):                      unless ye have believed in vain.

Jerusalem (1966):                        believing anything else will not lead to                                                                        anything.

New American (1970):                 unless you believed in vain.

New Jerusalem (1985):                otherwise your coming to believe was in vain.


Paul uses verse 6 about the five hundred witnesses to exclude the likelihood of hallucination and to insist on the availability of witnesses.[14]  Such reassurance might be helpful to the dying.  Incidentally, the use of the word brothers here plainly refers to Christians.


This usage, throughout the Pauline letters, indicates that the Letter to the Romans was written for weak Christians, not unbelieving Jews.[15]  This purpose in Romans serves to support the Faithful as they build up their strength to deal with the forthcoming lack of priests and vocations to the religious life.


Verse 10 is about the nature of the divine-human relationship, a constant Pauline theme.  Paul insists the relationship is built upon grace freely given, not on the Law.[16]


Matthew 4:19


This verse calls attention to the vocational aspect of the Christian life.


Luke 5:1-11


There are various ways of expressing what was happening to the nets in verse 6.  Someone must be thinking that were the net broken, the fish could not be caught.


Lectionary (1998):                        were tearing

The Vulgate (circa 410):               rumpebantur

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610):        their net broke        

King James (1611):                      their net brake

Jerusalem (1966):                        began to tear

New American (1970):                 were tearing

New Jerusalem (1985):                began to tear


Saint Jerome uses socii, connoting more friends than partners.  Partners is closer to the Greek.  Where were the women?


The difference between the vocations of men and women as portrayed in Scripture is that women serve while the men leave their homes to follow Jesus.  In this reading, Paul expands apostle to include more than the Twelve, enough to include women.  Some wonder why this earliest record of the Easter events does not include women.  The reason may be apologetic.  Men were reluctant to believe women, even if the first to witness what had happened were the four women mentioned in the narration.  The fact women are used at all testifies to a counter-cultural authentication.[17]


The readings for Cycle C of the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time reflect on the vocations of three great holy men, Isaiah in the first reading, Paul in the second, and Peter in the third.  The Psalm reminds the Faithful that God is present in the lives of all three in different ways, through different trials.  A trial like those of Isaiah, Paul, and Peter, overcoming sin and accepting a mature responsible Faith is before the Faithful today in the development of Scripture studies.  What the Faithful once thought to be the Rock of Salvation, both in tradition and Scripture as bonded by the Magisterium, is crumbling with the Dead Sea Scrolls.


From the time an article appears in a journal until the findings appear in textbooks takes about twenty years.  At least that used to be the time-duration, before the internet explosion of information.  Whether the problem is recognized by others in twenty or five years, the problem is present for the Faithful reading these Notes now.  The way to handle the problem is with grace that God will see to it that the Faithful remain in the palm of his hand through it all.



For more on sources, besides the footnotes, see the Appendix file.


[1] Eugene Ulrich, “Our Sharper Focus on the Bible and Theology Thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 1 (January 2004)15-16.


[2] Eugene Ulrich, “Our Sharper Focus on the Bible and Theology Thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 1 (January 2004) 21-23.


[3] Eugene Ulrich, “Our Sharper Focus on the Bible and Theology Thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 1 (January 2004) 18, 19.


[4] Richard J. Dillon, “Previewing Luke’s Project from His Prologue (Luke 1:1-4),” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 2 (April 1981) 216.


[5] Randall E. Otto, “The Prophets and Their Perspective," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 63, No. 2 (April 2001), 230.


[6] Brian Britt, “Prophetic Concealment in a Biblical Type Scent,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 1 (January 2002) 41, 58.

[7] J. Ross Wagner, “From the Heavens to the Heart: The Dynamics of Psalm 19 as Prayer," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 2 (April 1999) 249.


[8] International Commission on English in the Liturgy: A Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, The Roman Ritual: Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and Published by Authority of Pope Paul VI: Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum: Approved for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Confirmed by the Apostolic See (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1983) 2770-271.


[9] Robert J. Daly, S.J., “The Soteriological Significance of the Sacrifice of Isaac,”" the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 1 (January 1977) 48, 75.


[10] John M. Perry, “The Three Days in the Synoptic Passion Predictions,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 4 (October 1986) 646.


[11] Mark Kiley, “`Lord, Save my Life’ (Psalm 116:4) as Generative Text for Jesus’ Gethsemane Prayer (Mark 14:36 a),” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 4 (October 1986) 658.


[12] William O. Walker, Jr., “Galatians 2:7b-8 as a Non-Pauline Interpolation,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 4 (October 2003) 575, 582.


[13] E. Best, “Peter in the Gospel According to Mark,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4 (October 1978) 548, 555.


[14] Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P., “Tradition and Redaction in 1 Cor 15:3-7," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 4 (October 1981) 588.


[15] Robert A. J. Gagnon, “Why the `Weak’ at Rome Cannot Be Non-Christian Jews,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 1 (January 2000), 67.


[16] Vincent M. Smiles, “The Concept of `Zeal’ in Second-Temple Judaism and Paul’s Critique of It in Romans 10:2," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 2 (April 2002) 299.

[17] Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids, Michigan/ Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002) 114-115, 180, 259-260, 310.