Friday, June 01, 2007

Retired Bishop Reviews Jesus of Nazareth

Retired Bishop Basil Meeking has written a very nice review of Pope Benedict's book Jesus of Nazareth. For anyone still uncertain whether to read it, Bishop Meeking's analysis of the contents should remove lingering doubts. A few highlights are presented below.

Jesus of Nazareth is not in the first place devotional reading but a closely argued exposition written in a spirit of faith with the hope of eliciting rational reflection. But the thoughtful reader may well be led to prayer as well. To read the book is to experience the highly cultivated thinking of a clear and sharp mind, one that can present theological questions and insights in contemporary style. It abuses no one but is the civilised discourse that has its source in the Catholic culture of Europe.

The Sermon on the Mount shows that "being human is essentially about relationship with God". Integral to this relationship is the speaking and listening to God which is prayer. Jesus gave the Lord's Prayer, the prayer of the community and of the believer. Jesus of Nazareth is worthwhile if only for the light it throws on the meaning of the Our Father and the nature of prayer. It is the prayer of Jesus, the prayer to be said with him as he leads us from the primacy of God to the right way of being human. It shows us from heaven what we human begins (sic) can and should be like.

When he points out that the Scripture experts of Jesus' day, those professionally concerned with the sacred writings, do not recognise Jesus for what he is because they are too taken up with the intricacies of their detailed knowledge, Benedict has an eye to the present. He does not hesitate to uphold the place of historical criticism in Biblical exegesis, while being equally firm about its limits and the excesses which have led some exegetes to opinions that "destroy the figure of Jesus and dismantle faith".
Read the whole review here.

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