Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Through Holy Week with Pope Benedict XVI--and Happy Birthday to the Author!

Last year I read Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week during Lent and this year I have been reading volume I of the trilogy, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, in which the author:

covers the bulk of Jesus' public ministry, encompassing subjects and events that include Christ's baptism at the hands of John the Baptist; the Sermon on the Mount; the meaning of the parables; the Calling of the Twelve; the Confession of Peter; and the Transfiguration.

Benedict seeks to salvage the person of Jesus from recent "popular" depictions and to restore Jesus' true identity as discovered in the Gospels. Through his brilliance as a theologian and his personal conviction as a believer, the Pope shares a rich, compelling, flesh-and-blood portrait of Jesus during the time of his ministry and invites readers to encounter, face-to-face, the central figure of the Christian faith.

In doing this, Benedict explores the meaning of key moments in the Gospels (the temptations of Jesus, the Transfiguration, and the Sermon on the Mount) and points to passages in which Jesus outlines Pauline theology. He underscores Jesus' being rooted in the Old Testament — showing, for example, that the Beatitudes participate in a long tradition of blessings, as exemplified in Psalms and Jeremiah.

Benedict XVI draws on historical-critical scholarship of the New Testament, but cautions readers that the usefulness of strictly historical readings of Scripture is limited. He asserts that one also must read Scripture theologically and view each passage of the Bible as part of a larger canonical whole.

At the same time I am reading this volume--and right now I am into the chapter on the parables, which Pope Benedict reads through the lens of the Passion and the Paschal Mystery--the Holy Week issue of Magnificat is quoting extensively from Pope Benedict XVI in its introductions to daily Mass, the meditation for priests before the Chrism Mass, etc.

Furthermore, at the same time I am reading Volume I in his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy, and reading his wisdom on Holy Week readings and celebrations, today is his birthday! Happy birthday to Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI! Ad multos annos!

(I will probably post some further comments about Volume I to go along with my reviews of Volume II and Volume III.)

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