Thursday, March 10, 2011

Excerpts from the Foreword to Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week

Excerpts from the Foreword to Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week

By Joseph Ratzinger – Pope Benedict XVI

“At last I am able to present to the public Part Two of my book on Jesus of Nazareth. In view of the predictable variety of reactions to Part One, it has been a source of great encouragement to me that such leading exegetes as Martin Hengel (who sadly has since passed away), Peter Stuhlmacher, and Franz Mussner have strongly confirmed me in my desire to continue my work and to complete the task I had begun. While not agreeing with every detail of my book, they regarded it, in terms of both content and method, as an important contribution that should be brought to fruition.

“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. Exaggerating a little, one could say that I set out to discover the real Jesus, on the basis of whom something like a ‘Christology from below’ would then become possible.

“… 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’ disciples across the ages, can indeed attain sure knowledge of the real historical figure of Jesus.

“This task was even more difficult in Part Two than in Part One, because only in this second volume do we encounter the decisive sayings and events of Jesus’ life. I have tried to maintain a distance from any controversies over particular points and to consider only the essential words and deeds of Jesus—guided by the hermeneutic of faith, but at the same time adopting a responsible attitude toward historical reason, which is a necessary component of that faith.

“Even if there will always be details that remain open for discussion, I still hope that I have been granted an insight into the figure of our Lord that can be helpful to all readers who seek to encounter Jesus and to believe in him.”

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