I am a little afraid that I may return from my trip to Europe a Roman Catholic for two reasons:
(1) I’m going to Rome! So either I will be tempted to become a Catholic while in Vatican City or I will be tempted to become a Caesar while wandering around the Capitoline and the Palatino. If you think it is odd that someone of French descent would want to be a Caesar consider this fellow:
(2) After Mark Stevens blogged on Pope Benedict XVI’s second volume of Jesus of Nazareth there was a urge to sample some of his work from the first volume. I read the introduction and I was very, very impressed as it appears the Pope has engaged not only Catholic scholars, but Protestants, and he even showed familiarity with things like the canonical approach set forth by “American scholars” (xviii) and philosophical hermeneutics (xx).
It may be my Protestant bias, but I never thought of the Pope as being someone who would address things like historical-critical research. For some reason I saw the Pope as someone who could say whatever he wanted from the Magisterium and everyone else simply had to submit. Rather, he says in his introduction to V. 1 that he is doing no such thing and “Everyone is free, then, to contradict me.” (xxiii-xxiv)
I was wrong. I apologize to my Roman Catholic friends. We Protestants can be a bit ignorant.
That being said I must confess that it is unlikely that either of these two things will be persuasive, but I thought it would give me another reason to brag that I am going to Rome.
I have been telling people to read the American Scott Hahn’s book: Covenant and Communion, The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI for quite some time! Even the Reformed Mike Horton was positive toward it!
@Fr. Robert:: I’d be interested in reading that. I should engage more with the thought of my Catholic siblings in Christ. I do think I may begin with Pope Benedict XVI’s works on Christ since I found what I read to be very exciting and uplifting, but I have heard positive things about Hahn as well.
Yeah I got a few of those R. Catholic “siblings” myself. Well now extended family, since I am one of the senior family members. lol Benedict is a Catholic Augustinian btw.
I was surprised by the Pope’s works, as well. I was skimming through his first book at B&N the other day and didn’t expect him to refer to the works of Jeremias. I think I have misjudged him, as well.
@Matthew: My dream discussion on Jesus is N.T. Wright and Pope Benedict XVI!
Just on historical and theological content (of his own), the pope would win that one in my opinion! 🙂 Benedict or Ratzinger has written his share of books theological, and well before Wright.
“We have to enter into a relationship of awe and obedience toward the Bible, which nowadays is frequently in danger of being lost.” (Pope Benedict)
@Fr. Robert: I think they both bring a lot to the table and it would be wonderful to hear.
Brian, I agree! I think personally Rat or Benedict might be the best R. Catholic theologian since De Lubac. Certainly the most biblical. Yeah I like him! And even Tom W. too, but he is Anglican lite in my opinion. 🙂
@Fr. Robert: I was very impressed with my little sample of Benedict XVI’s writings. As I said in this post, I didn’t think of Popes as being this scholarly. It seemed that church administration would be too draining.
Brian: Remember, not all popes have been this scholarly. Benedict XVI is a special breed. And if you’ve ever spent any time in the Catechism of the Catholic Church then you’ve read more of his theology than you know.
Oh, and have fun in Rome! Eat some carciofi alla giudía for me.
@Nick: That sounds very good, but I have no idea what it is. I will keep an eye out for it as I look at different menus!
Brian: As Nick noted Ratzinger was Prefect of Doctrine for many years, so he has been doing theology since Vatican II. I just had a close friend go over to Rome, he was an Anglican. So much to like about Rome! But just not the papal doctrines. Rome has bypassed for the most part the great problem with the Orthodox in their ethnic ethos. But celibacy is a gift, and not something you can demand. Lots of problems and issues there!
@Fr. Robert: I’d agree strongly with those observations. The papal claims and the celibacy requirement for priests seem very misguided in my opinion. I don’t mind Bishops, in general, (though I do not attend a church that adheres to any bishop) like Anglican/Episcopalian and Orthodox ecclesiology sets forth. But one single hierarchical bishop is very problematic in my estimation.
Certainly the episcopacy has not always worked well for the English or the British, i.e. Anglicanism. Perhaps here the Orthodox have done better with their autocephalous or self-governing approach. But something should be said I suppose about the Roman idea of authority. It has somewhat worked for many years. But the papacy is certainly a development of doctrine itself. One of the very nature’s of Roman Catholicism, is the doctrine of development. Note John Henry Newman here.
Enjoy the trip! I have spent a little under a year of my life in Roma and I still want to return again and again. Make sure to check out as many churches as you can, from the large Basilicas to the small, obscure ones on the corner of the street.
Brian: They’re artichokes deep fried in olive oil. It’s a Roman specialty (of Jewish origin, hence the “alla giudía”) and right now through the end of April is the perfect season for artichokes in Italy.
@Timothy: Thank you for the advice! I hope to see all that I can see. A brain overload is the goal. 🙂
@Nick: I am glad you told me about this. I wouldn’t have known. Now I will make sure to seek these out!
I too have been to Rome…always lovely! HISTORY ABOUNDS! 🙂
@ Fr. Robert: More history than I will be able to assimilate!
Pope Benedict XVI is a theological juggernaut. So was John Paul II.
I ordered the popes second book, I might have to put that on hold and read the first one first??!! 🙂 Have fun in Rome.
If you want a nice quiet experience of the Sistine Chapel when it’s not packed full of other tourists, get to the museum before it opens and instead of following the normal path through the museum, walk straight to the chapel. It’s where all of the tours end, so you can usually get some quality time there before the hordes arrive. Then just meander back through everything you walked past to get there.
@JohnDave Medina: It seems that Benedict XVI is more prepared to handle some of the issues that are being addressed in Protestant circles that John Paul II. Maybe he has different interest and that is all. Either way, Benedict XVI seems to stand out to me to be more of a scholar, like Nick Norelli noted above.
@Brian: Thanks! I may read the Pope’s books sometime this year as well.
@Luke: Thanks for the advice! I may do that.
Your experience is similar to my own, though you may not eventually go as far as I have. Pope Benedict’s writings were very influential in my return to the Catholic Church. For a time, I was reading him almost exclusively, even when I was still in a Protestant Church. I love the two volumes of Jesus of Nazareth, but I have to say that my favorite book that he has ever written is still his Introduction to Christianity. I think it was probably when I read that book that I began to think to myself – “If this is the pope, I could really be Catholic.” It made the theology texts I had read at the evangelical seminary I had attended seem like rubbish.
We are all catholic. We are all pentecostal. We are all priests.
But we are all not “Reformed”! 🙂
Amen JohnDave, these two men, popes, were/are for Ratzinger.. “theological juggernauts”! And yeah surely Benedict is a theological “rock”! 🙂 That man must have read almost everything in Western theology!
I will be there myself next week. I get in Tues. Whenare you going to be there?
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