Benedict's Passion

Jesus of Nazareth Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI Ignatius Press. 384pp $37.95 


This volume is a sequel to Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, in which Pope Benedict made clear his principles of biblical interpretation.

The guiding principle was that the portrait of Jesus in the Gospels is trustworthy, and so it (and not some modern historian's reconstruction) is the proper object of study and devotion. Jesus is the key to the Scriptures, and so the Bible as a whole may and should be read from a Christological/canonical perspective.

The historical-critical method is foundational and indispensable for this kind of study but is not completely adequate for understanding Jesus and the Scriptures.

The pope's first volume was favourably received by most exegetes and theologians. He was, however, criticised by some for his excessive reliance on John's Gospel, antiquated biblical scholarship, and a somewhat narrow and conventional theological outlook. Whatever else it may have accomplished, the pope's first volume illustrated both the positive value and the difficulties of doing theological exegesis.

In his second volume the pope continues his project to integrate the historical hermeneutic practiced in much biblical scholarship today and a properly developed faith or theological hermeneutic and thus to restore biblical study to its identity as a theological discipline.

Focusing on the Gospel accounts of the events of Holy Week, he treats Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem and the cleansing of the temple, the eschatological discourse, the washing of the feet, Jesus' high-priestly prayer, the Last Supper, Gethsemane, the trial of Jesus, Jesus' crucifixion and burial, his resurrection from the dead and his ascension. To complete the project, the pope intends to write soon a small monograph on the infancy narratives.

- Daniel J. Harrington

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