The Word Made Flesh: Dei Verbum

God revealed Himself to us. He continues to do so, according to the famous encyclical, Dei Verbum, which literally means “the Word of God.” His revelation is “incarnational” because we have learned about God from people who have dwelt among us. Chiefly, according to Dei Verbum, this occurred when the Word of God was made flesh in the form of Jesus Christ. The Gospels of the New Testament, which were written by men about Christ (God made man), then, “are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word, our savior” (ch. V, 18).

“In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1), and “through the Word, God creates all things” (Dei Verbum ch. I, 3). The Word was revealed to flesh-and-blood humans like Abraham, upon whom God relied in order to make a great nation (Dei Verbum, ch. I,3), and to teach his people “to acknowledge Himself the one living and true God…” (Dei Verbum ch. I,3).

The Word was then made flesh in the form of Jesus Christ “in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion” (Dei Verbum ch. II,7)—but the incarnational revelation does not end with Christ. Dei Verbum continues by pointing out that Christ “commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men…” (Dei Verbum ch. II,7). The Author of the Word became man to teach the Word, and depends on men to transmit the Word to all generations.

Thus, Dei Verbum characterizes revelation as “incarnational,” pointing out that God has revealed himself through Abraham and the patriarchs, through Moses and the Prophets, and ultimately through the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. This is not the end of divine revelation, however, for the “bride of the incarnate Word taught by the Holy Spirit” continues to give us “a deeper understanding of the Sacred Scriptures” (Dei Verbum ch. VI, 23).

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