Saturday, June 30, 2007


BOOK REVIEW

POPE BENEDICT XVI, JESUS OF NAZARETH

I picked up this book at Miami airport and began reading it on a plane 34 000 above sea level on my way back to Singapore. It was, literally, a heavenly experience!

This is an outstanding work. Pope Benedict when he was Cardinal Ratzinger gave the impression of being a dry theologian and an inquisitorial figure. His writings as Pope however have shown the warmer side of his faith. His first encyclical was on Love. It was a simple look at the several levels of love and less scholarly when compared to the works of John Paul 2.

BIBLICAL THEOLOGY AT ITS BEST
Benedict calls this book, "My personal search for the face of the Lord". His personal search, not based on mystical experiences, is firmly centred on the Christ. He finds Christ in Scriptures,using the redemptive historical method as an expression of his personal faith. It surely is an irony, for Protestants anyway, to find a Pope who knows how to plunge and extract the deep riches of Christ from the Bible. Several passages are read in the light of other passages which shed greater light on Christ - this is biblical theology at its best.

One of the highlights is his masterful defense of the traditional view of the Apostle John's authorship of the gospel of John. He dialogues with those who deny John's authorship and uses their insights to put forward his argument. He reads Christ into OT themes and brings alive NT in interesting new ways.

A LACK OF PERSONAL DETAILS
The only weakness in the book is the absence of biographical details of a personal encounter with Christ as he read the scriptures. How did his readings of scripture bring Christ into his life and change him? No answers are given. We'll probably have to wait for Benedict's personal biography (or maybe information concerning his conversion is out there somewhere...can someone enlighten me)

This is a great book and I heartily recommend it.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Holy Father is a dynamic Christian leader

Anonymous said...

I agree it is a great book. I read the chapter on the Authorship of John today.

It is unfortunate but when he was Cardinal Ratiznger the only writings of his that got attention were of course when he saying "NO" to people. You would very much like his Book "Introduction to Christianity" which while touching some Catholic themes is much more aimed toward a larger writing. When I read THe Pope's works he reminds of the type of College Professor everyone wants to sign up for. I suspect that he wishes that is what the Lord had in mind with him.

A few thoughts on his conversion and writing. I get the sense there is a background and experience that we shall soon seem to come a end as a "living" voice. That is of a person of his special generation that saw LOTS of history. From Naziism, Communism, liberalism, Various Revolutions from the Sexual,Technolicial, to the political, etc. I think his personal search for Christ has to be seen with this as a background. I think one gets hints of it in his book.

He not only observed it but was a part of it in a intimate way. Talk about the horrors of Evil he was there for instance as his Downs Syndrome Cousin got hauled by the Nazi's one day never to be heard of again. I suspect he will be the only Pope that we shall have that will have been a Prisioner of War lol. He beloved Country was torn under and divided in two. The cries of the poor he has to confront and deal with the excess of the Liberation Theology movement. In sense he lived in a World of the terrifying Authority of the State and the one where all Authority was being mocked and rebelled against. I think much of these is the background. I have some links somewhere that goes to your question of how "How did his readings of scripture bring Christ into his life and change him?". I shall attempt to find them a post him.
One thing that should be of interest to Protestants is that he interacted with much more Protestant/Evangelcal thought than any other Pope in history. That was because of course he was from Germany. In a 1966 commentary on Vatican II’s “The Church in the Modern World,” Ratzinger said that the document leaned too heavily on Teilhard de Chardin and not enough on Luther . A pretty remarkable statement at the time and I think shows the influence of all kinds of thought on this Pope.

JH
Louisiana

Raphael Samuel said...

thank you JH...appreciate your comment..your insights have helped me to understand the Pope