"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 39
Welcome to the first post in our readalong of Pope Benedict XIV's Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week! I don't know about you, but I feel both totally out of my depth and totally safe and snug. While I'm hardly the perfect guide for this theological excursion, I think that we're all competent adventurers here and that we have a trusty map and an infallible compass that will not let us down. So if we all hang in there together, this should be great.
Now let's see exactly what we got ourselves into this time . . .
In the foreword to Part One, I stated that my concern was to present "the figure and message of Jesus." Perhaps it would have been good to assign these two words--figure and message--as a subtitle to the book, in order to clarify its underlying intention . . . The quest for the "historical Jesus," as conducted in mainstream critical exegesis in accordance with its hermeneutical presuppositions, lacks sufficient context to exert any significant historical impact. It is focussed too much on the past for it to make possible a personal relationship with Jesus. In the combination of [a faith-hermeneutic and a historical hermeneutic], I have attempted to develop a way of observing and listening to the Jesus of the Gospels that can indeed lead to personal encounter and that, through collective listening with Jesus's disciples across the ages, can indeed attain sure knowledge of the real historical figure of Jesus.
In words of shorter syllables, what the Holy Father means is that not all ways of interpreting the Gospels are created equal. He doesn't quite go out and say that his style of interpretation--which combines the study of the historical context with properly developed faith in Jesus's person and message--is the best one . . . but I will go out on a limb now and say that it's pretty high on the awesomeness scale.
So what kind of vision is available to us when we examine this period of history in almost microscopic detail, with the eyes of faith in its central figure?