The Pope Rocks

When I read Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth:  From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, I was blown away by the courage and brilliance of its approach.  I remember someone interviewed me for one of those Best Book of the Year columns and I mentioned the Pope’s book and called it “luminous.”  When the interview came out, I saw it and thought, “Oh crikey, I sound like a nun!” and reminded myself only to recommend books with titles like Death of a Serial Killing Pimp in order to maintain my hard-won reputation.

However, I just finished the second part of the Pope’s study of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth:  Holy Week from the Entry into Jerusalem to the Resurrection and it too is luminous, even if it does make me sound like a nun.

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Pope Benedict, as I’ve said before, is the Last European, by which I mean the last great man and mind who fully comprehends the beautiful but now dying culture that produced him.  It’s appalling to me–though not surprising–that the only thing the mainstream media ever covers about him is how often he apologizes for the abuses of some priests or how politically incorrect his view of gay people is or whatever.  I have now read a good selection of his writings and when the work of Foucault and Derridas and de Man and the rest of that benighted lot has toddled off to the obscurity it so dearly deserves, Benedict’s writings will stand.  They may be the final flares of genius to fly up from the continent he loves before darkness closes over it.

I’m not a Catholic.  My views on authority and sexual morality are too individualistic.  But when I see the level of thought coming out of Anglicanism  – especially the low and despicable crypto anti-semitism in the cowardly guise of anti-Zionism – and then read the grace-filled, spirit-inspired work of Big Ben, well, I’m embarrassed.

Anyway, a great Lenten read for us Jesus fans.

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  • Paul Zummo

    I’m about halfway through it, and like his other works, I love it. What makes Pope Benedict such a wonderful writer is that he is able to explore these mystical issues in a language that is a little bit easier to digest for the average guy. I also loved Pope John Paul II, but he could get a little too metaphysical and it was hard to fully absorb everything he was saying. Pope Benedict is just a bit more accessible to those lacking a theology Ph.D.

  • Wemedge

    I hear you on the Anglicans. They’ve become a pretty useless lot, unless they come from Africa. Ugandan Anglicans have made a cottage industry of coming up to the UK and exhorting the churches there on their lukewarm Christianity, including their stealth anti-Semitism. I’m an ex-Catholic and an ex-Atheist, in that order, Although the Catholics have messed up some important doctrines (a basic understanding of simple Greek grammar takes their belief in the primacy of Peter as the first pope and demolishes it.), I’ve always respected their emphasis on education- except for that lapse concerning Peter. If one prefers the more liturgical style, the Evangelical Lutherans aren’t so bad.

  • Bea M. Garcia

    “My views on authority and sexual morality are too individualistic.”

    Why not Biblical?

  • Keith

    B16′s luminous wisdom is what it is because he is a Catholic. His heart and mind have been shaped at the heart and center of the Church’s tradition. (The same tradition which produced Europe.) If the Catholic Church produces such luminous wisdom here…shouldn’t we afford a fair hearing when it comes to her teaching on authority and sexuality? I think you would love JP2′s teaching on the Theology of the Body. Also, the best book on Catholicism is Karl Adam’s The Spirit of Catholicism. Luminous, indeed.

  • onearmsteve

    actually that “understanding of simple Greek grammer will demolish Peter as the rock” will destroy you’re thinking. Not only are we right in the Greek b/c Christ coulda used for ‘pebble’ or ‘small stone’ the word psephos. Protest-ant Greek scholars admit there’s no distinction in the meaning between petros & petra. Christ also coulda used lithos as another word for ‘small stone’ though lithos can also be used for large boulder as in Matt 4:3 when the devil cajoles Jesus to transform some stones, lithoi, into bread. In John 10:31 Jews pick up lithoi to stone Jesus with. Matt coulda used lithos but he didn’t. Notice Matt used the demonstrative pronoun ‘taute’, which means ‘this very’, when he referred to the rock on which the Church would be built: ‘you are Peter, & on taute petra, (this very rock) I will build My Church” when a demonstrative pronoun is used w/ the Greek word for ‘and’ which is kai, the pronoun refers back to the preceding noun. In other words when Christ says ‘you are rock, & on this rock I will build My Church,’ the 2nd rock He refers to has to be the same rock as the first one. Peter is rock in both cases. Jesus coulda gotten around that if He’d wanted to. He didn’t have to say ‘and (kai) on this rock I will build’ He coulda said ‘but (alla) on this rock I will build My Church’ meaning another rock He then would have had to explain who or what this other rock was… but He didn’t.
    A better example to end your thinking that Peter isn’t the rock is we know it was originally given in Aramaic, a sister language of Hebrew, & the language that Jesus & the apostles spoke. & the Aramaic word for rock is “kepha”. as in John 1:42 ‘you shall be called Cephas’ which means Peter. Matt recorded ‘you are kephas & on this kephas I will build My Church’. Oh & St Paul refers to St Peter as Cephas a few times in his letters.

    Class dismissed

  • http://twitter.com/Gregoriomontejo Gregorio

    The Pope Rocks

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  • Jonathan Watson

    I have read Benedict’s “Introduction to Christianity”, which should really be subtitled “for those pursuing a Ph.D. in theology”, but which is truly an underappreciated work and should be read by more, especially those who appreciates his two works on Jesus.

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