Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nolite timere: Tolle lege, Verbum Domini sit

This is a project that has long begged to be undertaken, and has been waiting for just the gifts and background brought to it by its author. More than a few of us have long felt the need for the philosophical presuppositions of historical critical approaches to Biblical interpretation to be critically examined -- with a view to the practical end of improving catechesis and preaching, as well as confidence of the laity in Bible reading. This need is particularly acute in the Catholic circles where there is an urgent need for the public and private uses of Scripture over the last half-century to be disabused of the post-Kantian skepticism that is the legacy of Protestant Liberalism, and for those uses of the Bible to be liberated by a well-founded hermeneutic of confident faith. The concerns exhibited by Pope Benedict XVI's writings offer an ideal foil for precisely such a task, and I am delighted to see Professor Scott Hahn undertake it. On the one hand, this will mean that the readership will not be confined to a handfull of postmodern posers from departments of aesthete atheology discussing each other's arcane footnotes about whether Jesus really said what the apostolic writers said He said. On the other hand, nobody should be deceived by the comparative accessibility of Hahn's style or the relative brevity of the book: this is a piece of mature theological reflection seasoned by a career of Biblical teaching and research. I expect a wide readership for this volume; and from the following endorsements, I see I am not alone:

"A compelling manuduction right into the very core of Pope Benedict XVI's theological vision. In this clearly written and cogently argued essay, Hahn makes a convincing and highly pertinent case for what Pope Benedict holds to be the crucial challenge for the Church and theology today--the reunification, and thereby the renewal, of exegesis theologically conceived and theology exegetically grounded. Theologically insightful and surefooted, this book is one of the best and certainly the most timely and urgent among the recent introductions to the theology of Pope Benedict XVI."--Reinhard Huetter, Duke Divinity School

"Hahn here renders an important service in so clearly setting forth the hermeneutical principles, biblical framework, and doctrinal positions of Pope Benedict XVI, arguably the world's most important contemporary theologian. The parallels between the biblical theology of the pope and of evangelicals, together with their respective attempts to interpret Scripture theologically in an age marked by modern biblical criticism, are particularly fascinating."--Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Wheaton College and Graduate School

"As a Protestant biblical scholar, I found Hahn's exposition of Pope Benedict's biblical theology both informative and inspiring. In spite of differences, Protestants need to read this book to understand how deeply we can agree on the primacy of Christ and the Word. Through Hahn, I have a new appreciation for the mind and heart of Pope Benedict."--Tremper Longman III, Westmont College

"The increasingly painful bankruptcy of the historical-critical method in our time has created a vacuum precisely at the point where the living Church requires substantial nurture. Pope Benedict XVI has spoken into this crisis like no one else, and his best expositor, Scott Hahn, has done us a tremendous service by synthesizing Benedict's erudite and prayerful biblical theology into a lively, readable, and intellectually reliable conspectus. This excellent volume will be indispensable for all Christians who seek to be more maturely grounded in Scripture."--David Lyle Jeffrey, Baylor University

Table of Contents:
  1. Ignorance of Scripture Is Ignorance of Christ: The Theological Project of Joseph Ratzinger
  2. The Critique of Criticism: Beginning the Search for a New Theological Synthesis
  3. The Hermeneutic of Faith: Critical and Historical Foundations for a Biblical Theology
  4. The Spiritual Science of Theology: Its Mission and Method in the Life of the Church
  5. Reading God's Testament to Humankind: Biblical Realism, Typology and the Inner Unity of Revelation
  6. The Theology of the Divine Economy: Covenant, Kingdom, and the History of Salvation
  7. The Embrace of Salvation: Mystagogy, and the Transformation of Sacrifice
  8. The Cosmic Liturgy: The Eucharistic Kingdom and the World as Temple
  9. The Authority of Mystery: The Beauty and Necessity of the Theologian's Task
[Hat tip to J.M.]

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