Saturday, June 30, 2007
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.