Sunday, 5 August 2007

Remembering Jesus: Benedict XVI and James D. G. Dunn

In his masterful work, Jesus Remembered (Eerdmans, 2003), James D. G. Dunn observes that the Gospels give us access not directly to Jesus himself, but to memories of Jesus. And he suggests that “it is precisely the process of ‘remembering’ which fuses the horizons of past and present, by making the past present again” (p. 130).

Similarly, Benedict XVI’s new book, Jesus of Nazareth (Doubleday, 2007), emphasises the disciples’ remembrance of Jesus. And Benedict rightly notes that this memory is shaped and structured – or, to be more precise, “inspired” – by faith in the resurrection: “the Evangelist tells us that after the Resurrection the disciples’ eyes were opened and they were able to understand what had happened. Now [for the first time!] they ‘remember’…. The Resurrection teaches us a new way of seeing; it uncovers the connection between the words of the Prophets and the destiny of Jesus. It evokes ‘remembrance’, that is, it makes it possible to enter into the interiority of the events” (p. 232).

Benedict continues: “By means of these texts the [Fourth] Evangelist himself gives us the decisive indications as to how his Gospel is composed and what sort of vision lies behind it. It rests upon the remembering of the disciple, which, however, is a co-remembering in the ‘we’ of the Church. This remembering is an understanding under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; by remembering, the believer enters into the depth of the event” (p. 233).

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