"Theological Method on the Scripture as Source," in Foundations of Theology: Papers from the First International Lonergan Congress 1970, edited by Phil McShane (London and Dublin; Gill and Macmillan, 1971), pp. 162-193 and 245-254.
The article is an interpretation of Lonergan's own interpretation-theory as it applies to the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church. It shows that Lonergan "calls for constantly reinterpreting both Scripture and dogma in the light of the truth as known." It explains the principle he sets up "to purify whatever you hold or think you hold."
EXCERPTThis purification extends even to defined dogmas. They are true only when they are correctly understood. Clearly, for instance, Christ is not truly God and man if by 'God' you mean a ghost and by 'man' a three-toed sloth. But even understanding by the individual terms of the proposition exactly what everyone else explicitly and consciously understands by them is not enough. 'Correctly understood' means affirming that which is so, and affirming it correctly and for all time, and the affirming is about 'ultimate truth.' This is the real intention of the framers of dogma; and so, although one party among the defining bishops may have taken a word in one sense and another party in another sense, still both intended to be making a statement about ultimate reality which would serve the Church for all time. They may not have attained the clarity or the distinctness they would have liked, but all parties knew what they wanted: they wanted the truth.
Similarly, the community wanted the truth and accepted the dogmas as the truth, when it made its act of faith after the Council. It accepted the definitions as true even before it heard the report of what exactly they were. As the catechism's Act of Faith puts it: "Whatever the Catholic Church believes and teaches."
Consequently he argues that a dogma 'correctly understood' is always one understood in a way that is as close as possible to the truth. That means in the way most nearly coherent with the categories of being and the workings of the mind, an understanding in the light of what he calls "the theologically transformed universal viewpoint." It is the task of the systematic theologian in each case to work out such a purified understanding.
Lonergan practises this kind of purification constantly, usually without pointing to the fact that he is doing so. Do such purifications recapture what the first Christians, the authors of the Scriptures, or the Fathers of the Councils actually thought when they first used the words and images that they did? A believer will say yes, because they meant to affirm what God intended as a message for the ages-- but that could only be what is true, what conforms to reality. Consequently Lonergan's purified reading (insofar as it achieves what he aspires to) only brings out what they really intended even when their expressions were inadequate. A non-believer will see in the traditional words only so many quaint images and peculiar world-views from another age; and in Lonergan a demythologising, rationalising interpretation which has chosen to put philosophy above religion and faith.
FURTHER MATERIAL CLARIFYING LONERGAN'S HERMENEUTICS:"Pinning Down the Meaning," in Lonergan Workshop 7.
"Mutual Misunderstanding" in Lonerganian Hermeneutics.
"Hermeneutical Prolegomena to a Pastoral Letter" in Peace in a Nuclear Age.
The Mind of Mark: Interpretation and Method (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute (Analecta Biblica 38), 1969.