Friday, March 25, 2011

Benedict's Book "Jesus of Nazareth" Excerpts and Praise

"Now Pilate, seeing that he was doing no good, but rather that a riot was breaking out, took water and washed his hands in sight of the crowd, saying, 'I am innocent of the blood of this just man; see to it yourselves.' And all the people answered saying, 'His blood be on us and on our children'." (Matthew 27:24-25), Catholic Bible, pre-Vatican II Version.

In his book, Jesus of Nazareth, "Pope" Benedict XVI argues that it is certainly wrong to read "His Blood be on us and on our children. (Matt. 27:25).   As Benedict puts it:

" in the light of faith, it means that we all stand a need of the purifying power of love which is his blood.  These words are not a curse, but rather redemption, salvation.  Only when understood in terms of the theology of the Last Supper and the Cross, drawn from the whole of the New Testament, does this verse from Matthew's Gospel take on its correct meaning.  (Jesus of Nazareth, Vol.2, p. 187-188)

According to Benedict, St. Matthew and two millenniums of Catholic theology had it all wrong.   To strengthen his argument he must surely welcome the following praise: "I commend you for forcefully rejecting in your recent book a false charge that has been a foundation for hatred of the Jewish people for many centuries."--Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu

Jacob Neusner, a prominent Jewish expert on Judaism and Christianity who has had a twenty-five year correspondence with Benedict on the figure of Jesus, praised the book for blending theology and history and for its "courageous" exoneration of the Jews.  "He has accomplished something that no one else has achieved in the modern study of Scripture," Neusner said.

"My guess would be that this book is specifically user-friendly for entry-level seminary students, educated lay people with a lot of theological acumen, obviously clergy of various kinds," said Ben Witherington III, evangelical Bible scholar, Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky.

Craig Evans, a Protestant bible expert said: "Protestants of many stripes would be surprised at how Protestant the book reads, and that he wouldn't hesitate to put it in his syllabus for his conservative, Baptist seminary students.  If  it didn't say Pope Benedict on the cover, they might not even be sure they were reading a Catholic book."

Maybe I'm wrong, but if I were the author of this book, and Craig Evans was praising me as he has so done for Benedict...I would feel like I was getting a Kiss from Judas. 

As the Church asks us to do, let's pray for the conversion of Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger.