Issuu on Google+

C21 Resources a s e r v i c e o f b o s t o n fall 2008 c o l l e g e Encountering Jesus in the Scriptures daniel j. harrington, s.j. & christopher r. matthews A mong the various significant issues addressed by the twentyseven writings that make up the New Testament, two fundamental questions are, Who is Jesus? and Why is he important? The four Gospels look like biographies (at least in the ancient sense) and provide much information about Jesus’ life, teachings, activities, and death. However, none of them tells the whole story about Jesus. In fact, they all draw us back to the haunting question that Jesus posed to Peter and the other disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29). ability to undertake serious technical research and to communicate the results of modern scholarship to nonspecialists. The most authoritative Catholic document on biblical study is Vatican II’s 1965 Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei verbum). This document describes the Scriptures as the word of God in human language and as the soul of theology, and insists that the church’s preaching be nourished and ruled by Scripture. It encourages interpreters to be sensitive to the literary forms and cultural assumptions of the societies in which the biblical authors wrote. It recognizes that the four Gospels are the products of a fairly long and complex development from Jesus through the oral and written traditions of the early church to the Gospel writers (Evangelists), while insisting that they tell us the honest truth about Jesus. author of the very well received Jesus of Nazareth (2007), in which he attempts to bring together modern historical-critical study and the insights of the Christian theological tradition, while insisting that Jesus’ divinity is the key to understand-ing the Gospels. This October, bishops from all over the world will convene in Rome for a synod on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” to examine the practical pastoral effects of Dei verbum and to explore how biblical study and spirituality can be better encouraged among ordinary Catholics. Pope Benedict himself (Joseph Ratzinger) is also the Next to Jesus, Paul is the most important figure in the New Testament, and his understanding of Jesus has shaped Christian theology throughout the centuries. Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed the period from June 29, 2008 to June 29, 2009 as the “Year of St. Paul.” Intended to mark the 2000th anniversary of Paul’s birth, the goal is to promote among Catholics as well as Protestants and Jews an increased appreciation of Paul’s life and writings. This issue of C21 Resources also marks the return of New Testament Abstracts to sponsorship by Boston College. This journal provides an objective report of current scholarship published in many different languages. In recent years, it has covered 2,100 articles and 800 books per annum. It was founded in 1956 when Weston College was the School of Theology of Boston College. Since 1968, it has resided with Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge. Now with Weston’s reaffiliation with Boston College, it has become part of the new School of Theology and Ministry. The editors of this issue have worked together for many years on New Testament Abstracts. In recent years, that question has occasioned thousands of scholarly books and articles. This development from 1985 to the present is sometimes called the “Third Quest of the Historical Jesus.” The “First Quest” took place from the late 18th to the early 20th century, and was brilliantly catalogued by Albert Schweitzer. The “Second Quest” refers to a brief period in the mid-1900s when some students of Rudolf Bultmann rejected his skepticism about Jesus and contended that we can know a good deal about Jesus’ teachings. The first two quests were carried on almost entirely by liberal German Protestant historians and theologians. The Third Quest, by contrast, has been both international and confessionally diverse, and has given special attention to the Jewishness of Jesus. This issue of C21 Resources seeks to make accessible some of the best modern scholarship on encountering Jesus in the Scriptures. Its focus is wider than the historians’ quest. These essays try to explain not only who Jesus was in the 1st century but also what he might mean in the 21st century. Most of the contributors are Catholic scholars who have proved their We believe that the essays that follow provide a sample of some positive and constructive research on Jesus today. The articles first appeared in journals intended for the general public and so represent popularizations of more technical material. We hope that they may serve as a good introduction to one area of modern biblical scholarship and as a help for readers in answering Jesus’ own question, “But who do you say that I am?” The Empress Zoe mosaics on the eastern wall of the southern gallery of Hagia Sophia date from the 11th century. Christ Pantocrator, clad in the dark blue robe, is seated in the middle against a golden background, giving his blessing with the right hand and holding the Bible in his left hand. boston college | c 21 resources | fall 2008

2008 Fall, Encountering Jesus in the Scriptures

Related publications