|Jesus of Nazareth (2007)|
But what does "believing in the Gospel" mean during an age dominated by historical-critical study of the Scriptures? Many Christians who are not scriptural fundamentalist seem to have only a shaky confidence in the credibility of the Scriptures as the living word of God. More than a few people have a lurking sense that we are not really sure what Jesus said or did. After all, isn't there an almost insurmountable rift between "the Jesus of History" (i.e., who he really was and what he really did) and "the Christ of Faith" (i.e., what the first Christians claimed about him)?
The subversive suggestion is that we can know only a few isolated fragments of what Jesus himself may have taught, since the rest is buried under layers of beliefs added by the early Church. In his magisterial meditation entitled Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI boldly addresses this issue. Indeed, he speaks to the corrosive impact which a certain approach to historical-critical scholarship has had on Christian confidence regarding the Scriptures:
"All these attempts have produced a common result: the impression that we have very little certain knowledge of Jesus and that only at a later stage did faith in his divinity shape the image we have of him. This impression has by now penetrated deeply into the minds of the Christian people at large. This is a dramatic situation for faith, because its point of reference is being placed in doubt: Intimate friendship with Jesus, on which everything depends, is in danger of clutching at thin air." (Jesus of Nazareth, xii; emphasis added)