Read in Light of Christ:
The Catholic has to interpret the entire Old Testament as a gradual progression towards Jesus. “Anyone who wishes to understand the biblical belief in God must follow its historical development from its origins with the patriarchs of Israel right up to the last books of the New Testament” (Benedict XVI). Christians believe the fullness of truth is revealed in the person, teaching, and ministry of Jesus. We look at the entirety of Scripture in light of Him. Problematic passages in the Old Testament are “valid insofar as they are part of the history leading up to Christ” (Benedict XVI).
Instances of violence and immorality in the Bible can be adequately addressed only if Catholic s take seriously the fact that “God’s plan is manifested progressively and it is accomplished slowly, in successive stages and despite human resistance…Revelation is suited to the cultural and moral level of distant times” (Verbum Domini) and for this reason the Bible narrates certain things without denouncing their immorality in the way that we would rightly do today. “It follows straightway that neither the criterion of inspiration nor that of infallibility can be applied mechanically. It is quite possible to pick out one single sentence [of the Bible] and say, right, you find this sentence in [the Bible], so it must simply be true in itself” (Benedict XVI).
Old Testament Authors Not Privy to the Fullness of Divine Revelation:
Interpreting passages that seem to contradict the nature of God requires us to recognize that the people who penned the Old Testament were not privy to the fullness of divine revelation. Did the authors of the Old Testament think that God wanted them to execute entire peoples? It seems disingenuous to reply in the negative. Yet not withstanding what these authors thought, for Catholicism and its doctrine of biblical inerrancy the question revolves around what they intended to assert or teach.
God Condescends and Works Patiently with People:
The Old Testament’s conception of God and God’s deeds was imperfect because God was working with an imperfect people to gradually lead them to Christ. Like any good teacher, God in His divine pedagogy had to work with the pupils He had. The imperfections we see in the Old Testament are therefore not God’s, but rather due to the fact that He deigned to “condescend” and patiently work with a truly human people to lead them into communion with Himself.
Grace Builds on Nature:
God creates a human nature and works with it; grace builds on nature. Problematic passages within Scripture are among the clearest evidence that grace does not eliminate human nature.
David J. Conrad