The emergence of the academic discipline of “biblical studies” is a post-Reformation, post-Enlightenment phenomenon that developed in opposition to dogmatic theology. Within that discipline, emphasis on the historical-critical method has caused preoccupation with either proving the historical accuracy of the text, as seen in the biblical archaeology movement, or getting “behind” the text, as seen in the quests for the Historical Jesus or Paul within Judaism. While each approach does offer some valuable insights into
“The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth.” -Genesis 7:17 (NRSV) Recently, I had occasion to complain to a friend about the elasticity of the word “literal” when wielded in discussions concerning hermeneutics. The word is frequently used as a placeholder for vapid personal interpretations derived in absentia of authorial intent, historical context, and the traditions of the Church.
Part of a three book series on the Historical Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism to the Transfiguration (Image, 2007) begins Joseph Ratzinger’s examination of the life and teaching of the founder of Christianity.† In this book Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) engages the major moments and messages from Jesus’ ministry, combining historical, literary, and theological insights into a masterful work not only on the “Historical Jesus” of scholarship, but also on the “Living Jesus”