The New Jerome Biblical Commentary states: “Catholic critical scholarship from DAS [Divino afflante Spiritu] until 1970 was marked by intensive growth.

“Catholic biblical scholars received official church encouragement through two primary documents the PBC’s [Pontifical Biblical Commission’s] ‘Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels’ (1964) and Vatican II’s Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, 1965). The former document, in particular, recognized that the Gospels consisted of several layers of tradition and thus are not literal or chronological accounts of the life of Jesus. This position confirmed the results of biblical scholarship while setting the stage for further developments in the scientific, critical study of the NT [New Testament] among Catholic biblical scholars.

“Catholic NT scholarship increasingly made its own mark in the study of the NT. It succeeded in convincing more intelligent Catholics that the ultraconservative biblical positions of the past were no longer tenable and that the new approaches had values of their own which could feed worship and spirituality. It incorporated the results of scientific NT study into the discussion of issues with dogmatic implications, e.g., the limitations of Jesus’ knowledge regarding himself, the future, and the church, qualifications in the reliability of Acts as a guide to how the church historically emerged; the extent of creativity exercised in the formation of the Gospel tradition; the limited historicity of the infancy narratives.” (“Modern New Testament Criticism,” by John S. Kselman, S.S., and Ronald D. Witherup, S.S., in The New Jerome Bible Commentary, ed. Raymond Brown, S.S., Joseph Fitzmeyer, S.J., and Roland E. Murphy, O. Carm. [Prentice-Hall, 1990], pp. 1142, 1143.)