The Authority of Mystery: The Biblical Theology of Benedict XVI

Close study of the body of his writings suggest that, had Professor Ratzinger been left alone to pursue his scholarly interests and ambitions, his achievements would have rivaled or surpassed those of the greatest Catholic theologians of the last century.  

Never before in the history of the Catholic Church has a world-class biblical theologian been elevated to the papacy.  The election of Pope Benedict XVI, on April 19, 2005, brought to the Chair of St. Peter one of the world’s finest theological minds, a public intellectual long engaged in dialogue over the crucial issues of the modern period, especially the relationship between freedom and truth.

The former Joseph Ratzinger was a young academic theologian with a very bright future when, in 1977, he was chosen to be archbishop of the historic Bavarian diocese of Munich and Freising.  At the  time, he expressly identified a continuity between his scholarly work and his new service in the hierarchy of the Church, taking for his episcopal motto a biblical expression: “cooperators in the truth.”


First Comes Love: The Family Spirit (appendix)

Those interested in what Dr. Hahn has written about the Holy Spirit may read an online version of the revised and expanded chapter from First Comes Love (pp.152-174), including Sources and References (pp. 201-213).

The Church is our mother, and for that we should rejoice. Moreover, Jesus Christ has given us His own mother, Mary, to be our mother, too. Praise God for that—because if He has given us His mother as our own, He will surely deny us nothing! It almost seems an understatement to say He has not left us orphans. His gifts surely surpass all of mankind’s expectations for salvation.

Yet there is something penultimate in these gifts of motherhood. Great as they are, they point to a still greater gift that our Lord wants to give us.  Like all the good things of creation and the people and events in the Bible, these instance of holy motherhood are real, and we experience them powerfully, but God intended them to direct us to something still greater, something more real, something heavenly, eternal, and divine.  God intends for us to contemplate the biblical types and other creaturely images until we arrive at their uncreated origons. That, after all, is what creation is for, and that’s what revelation is for. It’s also what motherhood is for.

Read more at, reprinted with the kind permission of Doubleday Random House.

For the Sake of Our Salvation: The Truth and Humility of God’s Word

Though rarely stated in these terms, the Christian vision of the Bible must be determined by Christ’s vision of the Bible.

Christian tradition has always seen a close relationship between the pages of Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ. Both are designated the Word of God because both participate in the mystery of God revealing himself and his will in human form.  Scripture is the Word inspired; Christ is the Word incarnate. In the former, the divine Word is expressed in human language; in the latter, the divine Word is enfleshed in human nature. The two mysteries are interpenetrating and mutually illuminating.

The implications of this analogy may be drawn out in different ways. Most obviously, the doctrine of inspiration is akin to the doctrine of the incarnation because it entails a historical manifestation of the Word in a divine-and-human form. Further contemplation reveals that the inerrancy of Scripture is a parallel reflection of the sinlessness of Christ, for both are immune to the privations of truth and love which we call error. So too, on a hermeneutical level, the inspired Word must be read in a way that takes full account of its interconnectedness with the incarnate Word.  This is to say that biblical exegesis must investigate the historical meaning of Scripture as well as its theological meaning, the two being properties of its human and divine dimensions respectively.


Temple Sign and Sacrament: Towards a New Perspective on the Gospel of John

In this article, Dr. Hahn explores how the Gospel of John envisions Christ fulfillment of the Jerusalem Temple and its festivals through the sacraments celebrated by the power of the Spirit, especially the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist.

The significance of the Jerusalem Temple in John’s Gospel has been the subject of a large number of monographs in the last decade.  As a result of this work, scholars now generally accept not only that the Temple is a central theme in the Fourth Gospel, but that John is advancing what might be characterized as a “Temple christology”—that is, John wishes to show how the Temple and its liturgy find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, especially in his death and resurrection.

However, if our interpretation of John stops with that scholarly consensus—that John portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of the Temple—we are left with an apparently disconcerting situation; for, since Christ is now ascended, our Temple must be gone. And if this is true, the Church’s situation would be not unlike that of Judaism after 70 A.D. and the destruction of the Temple.  But John’s Temple Christology is not conceived so narrowly as to limit it to Christ’s immediate person and earthly ministry. Rather, the evangelist insists that Jesus’ ministry continues in and through the intermediaries of the Spirit and the apostles.


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