In the combox on a prior post about the existence of Satan being debated on Nightline, a dust-up began about the inerrancy of scriptures that started to get a little personal. Rather than let that get out of hand, I decided to hold a few comments and post on the subject directly.
First, Sacred Scripture is free from error in all that the sacred writers affirm, regardless of subject-matter. Again and again the magisterium has insisted that no Catholic interpreter may dare to restrict biblical inerrancy to the kinds of affirmations which he thinks have some religious or 'salvific' value, while allowing for the possibility of biblical errors in other supposedly 'profane' matters; for, as Vatican II puts it, everything affirmed by the human writers of the Bible is affirmed by the Holy Spirit Himself. That is precisely what the divine inspiration of Scripture means.
Secondly, Scripture must be interpreted in accord with Sacred Tradition, in particular, the unanimous consensus of the early Fathers, and the declarations of the Church's magisterium; and
Thirdly, while the identification of the precise literary genres of some parts of the Bible may be legitimately debated, the four Gospels, from start to finish, definitely belong to the literary genre of history in the strong and full sense of that word. As Vatican II puts it, the Gospels "always" (semper) tell us "the honest truth" about Jesus, handing on "faithfully" what he "really did and said for our salvation until the day He was taken up."