Jesus Of Nazareth 2

Fr Federico Lombardi of the Vatican Press Office has elaborated on the Pope’s holiday plans.

“He has told us that he wants to complete it [his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy]  with a third volume, of course shorter, on the childhood of Christ, on the Gospels of the childhood,” the Vatican spokesman explained:

“He has already started to work these last months in his free time, but it will probably be the moment to complete this work or at least to advance it decisively.”

“We know very well that the Pope is not at all a person who wastes his time,” Father Lombardi said. “He is a person who makes intense use of his time, even when he rests.”

Father Lombardi explained that one day he was amazed by the words of the Benedict XVI’s secretary, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, who said very spontaneously: “It is by studying and writing on theology and sacred Scripture that the Pope rests better, because they are the subjects that stir him most deeply.”

Read the whole article on Zenit.


Of related interest:

Part 1 Jesus of Nazareth Vol. I – Pope Benedict successfully corrects certain erroneous tendencies in modern biblical scholarship which have diminished our confidence in the reliability of Scripture and in our ability to know Jesus through it.
Verbum Verbum Domini - Verbum Domini has already been acclaimed as the most important document on the word of God since the Second Vatican Council. In it, Pope Benedict XVI, whose writings on Sacred Scripture are widely admired, summarises the reflections of the Synod Fathers who met in 2008 to discuss the ‘word of God in the life and mission of the Church’.
light Light of The World - Never has a Pope, in a book-length interview, dealt so directly with such wide-ranging and controversial issues as Pope Benedict XVI does in Light of the World.

Jesus Of Nazareth 2

Pope Benedict is set to begin his summer holiday at Castel Gandolfo, the Papal summer residence today, and it is thought he will spend it writing.

It is well known that before his election to the Chair of St Peter, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was looking forward to retirement – after being head of the CDF since 1981 – and a quiet life as a theologian. As so often happens however, God had other plans, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Earlier this week the Vatican Insider reported that Benedict was delaying the start of his holidays, in order to spend an extra day with his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger who is his only living relative. Today however, he is moving to the Papal summer residence and it is mooted that he has two main jobs to do, other than resting of course. The first is writing his addresses for the World Youth Day in Madrid, which is now a little over a month away. The second is said to be the writing of the third part of his study on Jesus.

After covering Christ’s ministry in part 1 and Holy Week, the resurrection and the ascension in part 2, the third is going to cover the infancy narratives, it will therefore be based on the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, since John and Mark say nothing about the birth of Jesus.

Let us hope he has some time to relax as well.


Of related interest:

Part 1 Jesus of Nazareth Vol. I – Pope Benedict successfully corrects certain erroneous tendencies in modern biblical scholarship which have diminished our confidence in the reliability of Scripture and in our ability to know Jesus through it.
Verbum Verbum Domini - Verbum Domini has already been acclaimed as the most important document on the word of God since the Second Vatican Council. In it, Pope Benedict XVI, whose writings on Sacred Scripture are widely admired, summarises the reflections of the Synod Fathers who met in 2008 to discuss the ‘word of God in the life and mission of the Church’.
light Light of The World - Never has a Pope, in a book-length interview, dealt so directly with such wide-ranging and controversial issues as Pope Benedict XVI does in Light of the World.

Jesus Of Nazareth 2

Canon Anthony Harvey, a former Sub-Dean of Westminster Abbey reviewed Jesus of Nazareth II for the Church Times. It’s worth looking at what he has understood about the Holy Father’s work.

He argues that the Pope’s proposal for a new reading of the New Testament combining the theological and historical-critical methods is a laudable one and is what made the first volume a well-received success.

Yet after accepting that the tone of Volume II, given its subject matter, was bound to be more reflective, Canon Harvey has a problem with Benedict XVI’s literal reading of the Gospels, for example:

“He takes Luke’s report of Jesus’s words to those crucified beside him (in which most scholars see the hand of Luke) as literal reporting — but how could anyone have heard them when they were looking on ‘from a distance’ (Luke 23.49)?”

This and other criticisms of the kind wish to point out that the Pope has failed in his desire to be both historically and theologically truthful – yet it is not necessarily so. To take issue with Luke’s Gospel seems strange, since it is the one that goes to most pains to shows its historical accuracy and Church tradition has held that since Luke’s Gospel contains the Bethlehem narrative, the Virgin Mary could well have been one of his sources – she was there under the cross too, so could that be where Luke got his quotes from?

He continues:

“In general, the Pope seems to assume the literal truth of the narrative. He accepts without question that the heavy curtain before the temple was literally rent in two at the moment of Jesus’s crucifixion, even though this was evidently seen as a metaphor.”

It seems then, that if one accepts the Gospels to be historical as well as theological one is not being “critical” enough. Surely it is more likely that the understanding of large swathes of the Gospels as “metaphor” happened after centuries of exegesis had taken place, not before?

The plus side

Yet the former Sub-Dean of Westminster Abbey does point out the book’s good sides too:

“The undoubted strength and appeal of the book is the firm anchoring of the narrative in a theological framework consisting of New Temple and Priesthood — New Passover ritual — New sacrificial Atonement — all rooted in Old Testament concepts and practices that are given new form and new life by Jesus.”

An anchoring that has been of undoubted service to all Christians and “Men of goodwill” who have been reading the book over the Easter period.


Of related interest:

Part 1 Jesus of Nazareth Vol. I – Pope Benedict successfully corrects certain erroneous tendencies in modern biblical scholarship which have diminished our confidence in the reliability of Scripture and in our ability to know Jesus through it.
Verbum Verbum Domini - Verbum Domini has already been acclaimed as the most important document on the word of God since the Second Vatican Council. In it, Pope Benedict XVI, whose writings on Sacred Scripture are widely admired, summarises the reflections of the Synod Fathers who met in 2008 to discuss the ‘word of God in the life and mission of the Church’.
light Light of The World - Never has a Pope, in a book-length interview, dealt so directly with such wide-ranging and controversial issues as Pope Benedict XVI does in Light of the World.

Holy Movies

Following on from our post about what cinematic version of Jesus’ life would be good to watch during Lent – as Holy Week offers a great opportunity to catch up on ones you haven’t seen – we want to talk about a few of the other representations, which have not really stood the test of time.

By way of contrast with the ones we will look at, it is interesting to see how close Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004) and Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth (1977) come to conveying some sense of the man of sorrows we heard about in the Gospel read yesterday on Passion Sunday.

Offering a “different” Jesus

There are however some films that purport to offer insight into the life of Christ but misunderstand him. The great American director Martin Scorsese tried his hand with The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) a film that showed Christ as someone burdened with a mission that he does not fully understand and when on the cross has temptations better not mentioned here.

The sometimes annoyingly catchy musical Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) showed Jesus as a soft-focus hippy and is, as the USCCB film website puts it, simply “naive”. There are other films about the life of Christ which follow this approach, such as Jesus of Montreal (1990) by Denys Arcand, which updates the passion to modern-day Quebec: interesting though it is, it could be troubling for some.

Which versions have real staying power?

What is striking to see is how the films that stay closer to the gospel texts ring truer and remain fresher than the films that try to offer “new” insight into the life of Christ and, seen today, feel dated and irrelevant.

These thoughts support what Pope Benedict writes in his books on Jesus of Nazareth, that it is really the Jesus of the Gospels who is the most interesting and convincing.

We would love to hear your thoughts on these or any other films which touch on this subject – leave your comments below.


Of related interest:

Jesus 2 Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week -
WHO IS JESUS? Many modern scholars have tried to reinterpret him as a myth, a political revolutionary, a prophet whose teaching was distorted by his followers. In short, anything other than the traditional Christian understanding of him as the Messiah, the Son of God.
light Light of The World - Never has a Pope, in a book-length interview, dealt so directly with such wide-ranging and controversial issues as Pope Benedict XVI does in Light of the World.
J of Naz Jesus of Nazareth Volume 1 - A luminous work by the Pope, now available in paperback, which presents in a fresh and inspiring way the person of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.

Jesus Of Nazareth 2

Deacon Nick Donnelly tells us what reading Benedict XVI’s book has meant for him.

There have been many excellent comments and analyses of Pope Benedict’s new book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week since its launch by the CTS, but I would like to share with you how the Holy Father’s book has affected me on a personal level, at the level of my personal faith.

Two years ago I wrote a booklet for the CTS called, Prayers for Grieving Parents: Help after a miscarriage or stillbirth based on my experience of the death of our first child, Gabriel.

Just before Christmas 2010 our second baby, Ariel, died at eight weeks’ gestation.  And just three weeks ago we received news that one of my young cousins has tragically died.

“A ray of light”

So it is in a state of deep grief, sometimes despair, that I have been reading Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth. The darkness and horror of death are very real at present, leaving me with the perennial but very personal questions, ‘Is there really eternal life after death, or only annihilation?’, ‘Did Jesus really rise from the dead on the third day or is my hope illusory?’

Pope Benedict’s chapter, Jesus’ Resurrection from the Dead, has been a ray of light in the darkness, renewing my hope that faith in eternal life is grounded in the real event of Jesus’ resurrection on the first Easter Sunday in Jerusalem.

Celebrating the Risen Lord

In particular the Holy Father’s reflection on the significance of the early Christian community abandoning the Jewish Sabbath to celebrate the resurrection on the first day of the week brought home to me in a powerful way the historical reality of Jesus’ defeat of death:

“If we bear in mind the immense importance attached to the Sabbath in the Old Testament tradition on the basis of the Creation account and the Decalogue, then it is clear that only an event of extraordinary impact could have led to the abandonment of the Sabbath and its replacement by the first day of the week.

“Only an event that marked souls indelibly could bring about such a profound realignment in the religious culture of the week.  Mere theological speculations could not have achieved this.  For me, the celebration of the Lord’s day, which was a characteristic part of the Christian community from the outset, is one of the most convincing proofs that something extraordinary happened that day—the discovery of the empty tomb and the encounter with the risen Lord.”  (p. 259).

Pope Benedict’s gift is to take something that is so familiar to us, like the shift from the Sabbath to Sunday, and revealing to us the profound significance of aspects of our Christian life that we take for granted.

I am still grieving, but during the bad times I keep reading this paragraph from Jesus of Nazareth in order to remember that there is real hope that I will be re-united with my children Gabriel and Ariel, and that my cousin Sarah is safe in the love of our Risen Lord.

Deacon Nick Donnelly
ProtectthePope


Of related interest:

Part 1 Jesus of Nazareth Vol. I – Pope Benedict successfully corrects certain erroneous tendencies in modern biblical scholarship which have diminished our confidence in the reliability of Scripture and in our ability to know Jesus through it.
Lent Lent: Walking towards the Resurrection – Pope Benedict’s illuminating and probing Lenten reflections on the season’s scripture and liturgies culminate in the greatest treasure of all: our personal participation in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Saints made Prayers for Grieving Parents - This book of prayers, practical advice, meditations and services has been written for parents whose child has died through miscarriage or stillbirth. It offers sound advice on dealing with grief, what practical steps can help.


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