Dei Verbum: Vatican II?s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation

Thomas D. Stegman SJ

Thomas D. Stegman SJ is associate professor of New Testament at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. In this article he explains the major theological claims and themes contained in?Dei Verbum, Vatican II?s constitution on divine revelation.

Dei Verbum, the dogmatic declaration on divine revelation, is one of four constitutions produced at the Second Vatican Council and was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965. The Council Fathers followed their forebears at Trent and Vatican I in setting forth an authoritative statement about revelation and its transmission.

Compared with the other three constitutions ? Sacrosanctum Concilium (on the sacred liturgy), Lumen Gentium (the dogmatic constitution on the Church), and Gaudium et Spes (the pastoral constitution on the Church) ? Dei Verbum is a relatively short document. Its few pages, however, contain a superabundance of theological riches. Dei Verbum presents a personal-relational model of divine revelation, offers a nuanced treatment of the symbiotic relationship between Scripture and Tradition, explains the process of production of the biblical writings along the lines of the Incarnation, defends the value of the Old Testament, elucidates the privileged position of the four Gospels in the life of the Church, and encourages all the faithful to engage in prayerful study and appropriation of the treasures offered at the ?table? of God?s Word.

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