Benedict XVI: Jesus of Nazareth volume 2 – FOREWORD
I hope, noted Benedict XVI, that, according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, the study of Sacred Scripture, read in the communion of the universal Church, will really be like the soul of theological studies (Dei Verbum). The interpretation of Sacred Scripture would remain incomplete if we did not listen to who has truly lived the Word of God, that is to say the Saints (ibidem)
Fact, viva lectio is vita bonorum (St. Gregory the Great). In effect, the deepest interpretation of scripture properly comes from those who have allowed themselves to be molded by the Word of God, through listening, reading and assiduous meditation.
January 10, 2023 – ESM – It is in this context that we offer you, day after day, to discover the second part of his book on Jesus of Nazareth – From the Entry into Jerusalem to the Resurrection. Let’s start below with his FOREWORD.
It is finally possible for me to present to the public the second part of my book on Jesus of Nazareth. In view of the very many reactions to the first part – which was certainly not surprising – the fact that eminent masters of exegesis like Martin Hengel, who has since died, like Peter Stuhlmacher and Franz Mufner explicitly confirmed in the project to continue my work and to complete the work begun was for me a precious encouragement. Without taking into account all the details of my book, they nevertheless considered it, both from the point of view of content and method, as an important contribution that should be brought to completion.
It was for me an additional reason for joy to see that this book had somehow gained an eccentric brother with the voluminous work jesus (2008) by Protestant theologian Joachm Ringleben, which has since appeared. Those who read the two books will notice, on the one hand, the great difference in the way of thinking and in the determining theological formulations by which the diverse confessional origin of the two authors is concretely expressed. But, on the other hand, the deep unity at the level of
essential understanding of the person of Jesus and his message is there at the same time manifest. It is the same faith that acts, even from different theological approaches; an encounter occurs with the same Lord Jesus. I hope that these two books, in their diversity and in their essential agreements, can constitute an ecnic testimony which, at the present time and in its own way, will be useful for the fundamental common mission of Christians.
I also note with gratitude the fact that the discussion on the method and on the hermeneutics of exgese, as also on exgese as a historical as well as theological discipline, is becoming ever more lively, despite numerous resistances to the keeping new steps to accomplish. Marius Reiser’s book,
Bibelkritik und Auslegung der Heiligen Schrift (Biblical Criticism and Interpretation of Sacred Scripture), published in 2007, seems particularly interesting to me in this regard. It collects a series of previously published essays, creates a homogeneous unity from them and offers important indications for opening up new paths of exegesis, without abandoning what in the historical-critical method is of permanent importance.
One thing seems obvious to me: in two hundred years of exgetic work, historical-critical interpretation has now given all that it had to give. If scientific biblical exegesis does not want to exhaust itself in the constant search for new hypotheses, becoming theologically insignificant, it must take an additional methodological step and recognize itself again as a theological discipline, without renouncing its historical character. It must learn that the positivist hermneutics from which it starts is only the exclusively valid expression of reason. This has definitely found itself, but it constitutes a determinate mode of reasoning which is historically conditioned, which is capable of receiving corrections and additions, and which needs them. Such an exegesis must recognize that a hermeneutics of faith, properly developed, is in conformity with the text and can be combined with a historical hermeneutics aware of its own limits, to form a methodological whole.
It goes without saying that this conjunction of two very different kinds of hermeneutics is a task that has to be taken up again and again. But this conjunction is possible, and through it, the great intuitions of the patristic exgsis will be able, in a new context, to bear new fruit, as Reiser’s book rightly shows. I do not claim to affirm that in my book this conjunction of the two hermeneutics could have been accomplished to the end. But I hope I have already taken a good step in this direction. In the final analysis, it is a matter of finally taking up the methodological principles for exgese formulated by the Second Vatican Council (in
Dei Verbum 12) task which unfortunately, until now, has hardly been taken into consideration.
No doubt it is useful to put this point once again in evidence of the intention that guides my book.
It is not necessary, I believe, to say expressly that I did not want to write a Life of Jesus. As regards the questions of chronology and topography of the life of Jesus, there are excellent works: I refer in particular to Joachim Gnilka, Jesus of Nazareth. Botschaft und Geschichte
and John P. Meier’s in-depth studyA Marginal Jew
(three volumes, New York, 1991, 1994, 2001).
A Catholic theologian called my book, like Romano Guardini’s masterpiece, Der Herr, of Christology from above, not without warning of the dangers that this entails. In reality, I have not tried to write a Christology. In the sphere of the German language we have a series of important Christologies, such as those of Wolfhart Pannenberg, Walter Kasper and Christoph Schonborn, to which we must now add the great work of Karl-Heinz Menke, Jesus is Gott der Sohn (2008).
Closer to my intention would be the confrontation with the theological treatise on the mysteries of the life of Jesus, to which Thomas Aquinas gave a classic form in his Summa Theologica
(S. theol. III, qq. 27-59). Even though my book has many points of contact with this kind of trait, however, it is placed in a different historical-spiritual context, and therefore also has a different intrinsic orientation, which essentially conditions the structure of the text..
the foreword of the first part, I said that my desire was to present the figure and the message of Jesus. It would perhaps have been good then to put these two words – figure and message – in the subtitle of the book, to clarify its basic intention. Exaggerating a bit, one could say that I wanted to find the real Jesus, from which alone, something like a Christology from below becomes possible. The historical Jesus, as he appears in the mainstream of critical exegesis with his hermeneutical presuppositions, is too insignificant in its content to have been able to engage any great historical efficacy: it is too much situated in the past. to make possible a personal relationship with him. By combining the two hermeneutics of which I spoke above, I have tried to develop a view of the Jesus of the Gospels and a listening to what he tells us that is likely to come in communion with the disciples of Jesus of all times,
to achieve also the certainty of the truly historical figure of Jesus.
This task was even more difficult in the second part than in the first, because it is in the second only that we find the words and the decisive events of the life of Jesus. I have tried to stay out of controversies on many possible particular elements, and I have tried to reflect only on the essential words and acts of Jesus guided by the hermeneutics of faith, but taking into account at the same time time and in a responsible way of the historical reason, necessarily contained in this same faith.
Although, of course, there will always be details to discuss, I hope, however, that it has been given to me to approach the figure of our Lord in a way that can be useful to all readers who wish to meet Jesus and believe in Him.
Given the fundamental objective of the book as it is presented, that is to say to seek to understand the figure of Jesus, his word and his action, it is obvious that the stories of childhood could not enter directly into the essential intention of this work. However, I want to try to keep my promise (see first part, p. 19) and present another small booklet on this subject, as long as the strength to do so will be given to me.
Jesus of Nazareth – Benedict XVI
1st part –
From Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration
Presentation of the second part of Jesus of Nazareth by Benedict XVI
► Extracts from the book of Joseph Ratzinger-Benot XVI: Jesus of Nazareth II
The turn of Franois, he moves away not only from Benot but from Jean-Paul II
This document is intended for information; it is not an official document
Eucharist sacrament of mercy –
January 10, 2023