One of the problems with the words “Jesus” and “the Bible” are that we can think we already know all we need to about them. If you had exposure, as I did, to Biblical stories and religion classes through school, you might think you really have as much knowledge as you need about all that. You may have even decided what you heard wasn’t for you, and find much more profound insights in other faiths or no religion at all.
Please consider, as Confucius says, thinking again.
There is SO much good content in this book. It really is worth reading, and re-reading.
The insights into the methods of interpreting Jesus as a revolutionary, a myth, a person who was just a really nice guy etc. as per the New Religion and more, all get addressed in a reasoned and accessible manner. It is one I will come back to as the layers are peeled back further with each reading.
Other than encouraging you to read it, I will just include a few of my favourite excerpts:
At the heart of all temptations…is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying, in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives. Constructing a world by its own lights, without reference to God, building our own foundation; refusing to acknowledge the reality of anything beyond the political and material, while setting God aside as an illusion – that is the temptation that threatens us in many varied forms. p 28
If you follow the will of God, you know that in spite of all the terrible things that happen to you, you will never lose a final refuge. You know that the foundation of the world is love, so that even when no human being can or will help you, you may go on, trusting in the One who loves you. Yet this trust, which we cultivate on the authority of Scripture and at the invitation of the risen Lord, is something quite different from the feckless defiance of God that would make God our servant. p 38
When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God, he is quite simply proclaiming God, and proclaiming him to be the living God, who is able to act concretely in the world and in history and is even now so acting. He is telling us: “God exists” and “God is really God”… p 55
At the foot of Jesus’ Cross we understand better than anywhere else what it means to say, “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Those who do not harden their hearts to the pain and need of others, who do not give evil entry to their souls, but suffer under its power and so acknowledge the truth of God – they are the ones who open the windows of the world to let the light in. It is to those who mourn in this sense that great consolation is promised. p 87
But God is not some distant stranger. He shows us his face in Jesus. In what Jesus does and wills, we come to know the mind and will of God himself. p 128
“When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he” (Jn 8:28) … On the Cross, Jesus is exalted to the very “height” of the God who is love. It is there that he can be “known”, that the “I am he” can be recognized. The burning bush is the Cross. The highest claim of revelation, the “I am he,” and the Cross of Jesus are inseparably one. p 349
NB. This is the first of 3 volumes by Joseph Ratzinger on Jesus. The second deals with the events of Holy Week (Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday), and the third deals with the childhood of Jesus.