have neither unity nor order; what he has to say
will be a mere accumulation of various disjoint-
ed ideas incapable of inspiring others. The cen-
tral message is what the author primarily wanted
to communicate; this calls for recognizing not
only the author’s ideas but the effect which he
wanted to produce. If a text was written to con-
sole, it should not be used to correct errors; if
it was written as an exhortation, it should not
be employed to teach doctrine; if it was written
to teach something about God, it should not be
used to expound various theological opinions; if
it was written as a summons to praise or mission-
ary outreach, let us not use it to talk about the
latest news.
148. Certainly, to understand properly the
meaning of the central message of a text we need
to relate it to the teaching of the entire Bible as
handed on by the Church. This is an important
principle of biblical interpretation which recog-
nizes that the Holy Spirit has inspired not just a
part of the Bible, but the Bible as a whole, and
that in some areas people have grown in their
understanding of God’s will on the basis of their
personal experience. It also prevents erroneous
or partial interpretations which would contradict
other teachings of the same Scriptures. But it
does not mean that we can weaken the distinct
and specific emphasis of a text which we are
called to preach. One of the defects of a tedious
and ineffectual preaching is precisely its inability
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