Journal of Religious Education

, Volume 65, Issue 1–3, pp 51–68 | Cite as

Tensions between the Catechism’s teachings on the interpretation of scripture versus its exegesis of the Adamic narrative: explicit, implicit and null curricula in an evolving tradition

  • Alan McGill


This article addresses the catechetical challenge posed by the Catechism of the Catholic Church that emphasizes the importance of interpreting the bible in view of its literary genres, yet interprets the Adamic narrative as though the text is a figurative account of a particular historical event. This interpretation stands in conflict with the overwhelming consensus of modern biblical scholarship and resists the Church’s mandate for exegetes to freely apply the best interpretative means at their disposal so as to contribute to the continued development of doctrine. The article detects a null curriculum at work, resisting the progress advanced by the Church’s explicit teachings on the interpretation of scripture. However, this tension is indicative of a dynamic, evolving tradition within which development cannot be simultaneous across every aspect of teaching and practice. In view of the reality of the Church’s implicit and null curricula, standing in conflict with its explicit teachings, the article posits the importance of catechesis that empowers learners to receive doctrine in a critical manner, situating it within the broader context of the tradition and setting it in dialogue with their knowledge and experience.


Adamic narrative Catechism Fall Literary genre Biblical hermeneutics Null curriculum Evolving tradition 


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© Australian Catholic University 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cristo Rey Jesuit High School AtlantaAtlantaUSA

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