Benedict’s little dig at modernist theologians

In his new book in the infancy of the Lord, Pope Benedict as a little dig at modernist theologians – perhaps too wrapped up in the historical-critical method:

The answer given by the chief priests and scribes to the wise men’s question has a thoroughly practical geographical content, which helps the Magi on their way. Yet it is not only a geographical, but also a theological interpretation of the place and the event. That Herod would draw the obvious conclusion is understandable. Yet it is remarkable that his Scripture experts do not feel prompted to take any practical steps as a result. Does this, perhaps, furnish us with the image of a theology that exhausts itself in academic disputes?  (p. 105)

Here are some links you can use to purchase the Pope’s new book.

US hardcover HERE.  Kindle HERE. Unabridged audio HERE. Large print HERE.
UK hardcover HERE. Kindle HERE.  Large print HERE.

Buy a Kindle:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. catholicmidwest says:

    That’s really obscure though. This is, Herod, son of Antipater, that he’s talking about here, and his staff of Scripture experts. Herod was an Idumean and a very successful politician. He was also married to the granddaughter of the Jewish high priest, and that’s probably at least part of why probably he had a staff of OT Scripture experts at hand. He probably also had them because he was the Roman procurator, and the Jews had a reputation for being difficult in a religious sort of way, from the Roman point of view, so he needed to be able to anticipate and control them. This quote you have here is about the view of those Jewish scholars with respect to what Scripture said from a Jewish point of view, probably using Mishnah as a guide. That’s hardly the historical-critical method of the 17th-20th centuries.

    I’m not convinced actually that modernist types contemporary to today are involved heavily in historical-critical method. Rather, I think many of them are post-literate when it comes to Scripture. They frankly don’t give a darn what it really says, preferring what they want it to say. (This is an equal opportunity mess. This is how they treat Vatican II too.)

  2. swilson18 says:

    Thanks Fr. Z, this is an excellent and enticing quote that would motivate me to purchase the Holy Father’s third work on Jesus of Nazareth. That is if I needed motivation. :) Thanks for reminding us that it is ready for release. I purchased it from your kindle link earlier today. Do you think the Holy Father is using a double entendre here? He is a master with theological prose.

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Now that’s definitely a poke at theologians. :) But like the best kind of pokes, it is sharp because it is also a poke back at himself — a reminder that he too must use his theology for doing God’s will or risk hellfire, or at least waste God’s time and effort.

    And a poke at the reader also, for that matter. From whom much is given, much is asked. Or as Marvel puts it, “With great power” (or in some comics, “knowledge”) “comes great responsibility.”

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