Tuesday 8 November 2005

Cardinal Ratzinger: creation and Israel’s history

Before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger published a valuable little book of homilies on Genesis 1-3, entitled In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995). In the book’s opening chapter, he writes:

“[T]he creation account in Genesis 1 ... is not, from its very beginning, something that is closed in on itself. Indeed, Holy Scripture in its entirety was not written from beginning to end like a novel or a textbook. It is, rather, the echo of God’s history with his people.... Hence the theme of creation is not set down once for all in one place; rather, it accompanies Israel throughout its history, and, indeed, the whole Old Testament is a journeying with the Word of God.... [I]n confronting its pagan environment and its own heart, the people of Israel experienced what ‘creation’ was. Implicit here is the fact that the classic creation account [in Gen. 1] is not the only creation text of sacred Scripture. Immediately after it there follows another one, composed earlier and containing other imagery. In the Psalms there are still others, and there the movement to clarify the faith concerning creation is carried further. In its confrontation with Hellenistic civilization, Wisdom literature reworks the theme without sticking to the old images such as the seven days. Thus we can see how the Bible itself constantly readapts its images to a continually developing way of thinking, how it changes time and again in order to bear witness, time and again, to the one thing that has come to it, in truth, from God’s Word, which is the message of his creating act. In the Bible itself the images are free and they correct themselves ongoingly. In this way they show, by means of a gradual and interactive process, that they are only images, which reveal something deeper and greater.”


Jim said...

Sweet irony... a Roman Pontiff publishing a book in a Reformed publishing house. Calvin would be overjoyed.

Fred said...

Thanks for posting this excerpt! I've added it to my list of links to reviews of books in Eerdman's Ressourcement Series.

Ben Myers said...

I really liked Susan Wood's book on de Lubac -- it's an excellent study.

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