Pope Benedict’s new book is out. There are some great quotes.
The Pope follows Joachim Gnilka in the theory that Mary is the ultimate source of Matthew and Luke’s accounts of the birth of Christ. They agree that the Lord was born at Bethlehem (pace those who think He was born in Nazareth). There were Marian traditions circulating. After Mary’s assumption. these accounts were added to the beginning of the Gospels. How, when, etc., the Pope doesn’t go into. Why couldn’t Mary be the source? She was there after all. Did she lie about the angel? Why does Luke insist in a couple places that Mary pondered things in her heart? Did Luke just lie?
The Pope tackles this and slips in a little dig at ‘critical’ exegetes:
“Naturally, modern ‘critical’ exegesis will tend to dismiss such connections as naive. But why should there not have been a tradition of this kind, preserved in the most intimate circle and theologically shaped at the same time? Why should Luke have invented the statement about Mary keeping the words and events in her heart, if there were no concrete grounds for saying so? Why should he have spoken of her “pondering” over the words (Lk 2:19; cf. 1:29) if nothing was known of this?” (p. 16).
Very well done.
The Holy Father’s book presents a real defense of the historicity of the infancy narratives.