I was reading a book yesterday in which a mother was lamenting the fact that her child had to learn everything from scratch. Man has been around for a debatable number of millennia but each one must start at scratch again; here’s how to walk, this is the color blue, 2 plus 2 equals 4, it is wrong to hit your sister.
To some extent this is true, but each generation hopefully builds on the shoulders of giants. There are still lessons we must learn on our own, “I don’t care what you say. He loves me and so I’ll give him my Social Security number.” But we then can build on the greater experience of humanity. “Now you understand why you do not hand your Social Security number over to anybody. Here is how you can get yourself out of this jam and how to prevent it in the future.”
Faith is like this too. The lived experience of 2,000 years of Christianity informs us how Scripture is to be understood. Every generation does not have to come up with this understanding on its own. The early Church fathers, the saints, the people of God all guided by the Holy Spirit have provided us with the glasses through which we understand Scripture. This helps prevent tragedies like this:
To assist with this, bishops are charged in paragraph 25 of Dei Verbum to make sure that Scriptures in quality translations are made available, that they use of Scriptures is explained, and that Bible are produced with copious notes to assist the reader in understanding the Scriptures.
Interestingly, they are also charged to create such Bibles even for non-Christians (prudently distributed) with proper notes and fitted to their purposes.