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Monday, May 19, 2008

Bible "scholar" Perpetuates Modernist Thought

I found this link just now, and what's amazing is that I spent the entire day refuting the very same issues brought forth by another "scholar" for my New Testament Class!

Basically, the "scholar", a "leading New Testament scholar" and "former priest" (these terms are ALWAYS red flags especially when used in the same sentence!), Geza Vermes, has condemned Pope Benedict's book, Jesus of Nazareth, claiming that he's "turned back the clock on "modern scholarship".

Actually..the Pope indeed has done so, and thank God! The Pope has condemned most modern "scholarship". Because, unfortunately, most modern biblical scholarship is in fact, Modernist, and actually rejects Divine Revelation in favor of the modernist or "progressive" idea that religion does not come to us from outside of us, but internally, and is subject to an interior evolution.

Some modernist biblical "scholars" to avoid have names like: Bultmann, [Raymond] Brown, Fitzmyer, and Vernes. (Fitzmyer actually plagiarized Bultmann just as Luther plagiarized Ockham). FYI.

Anyway, on with some of the article (I encourage you to read all of it):

Vermes devoted his presentation to arguing that on the basis of the New Testament, the image of Jesus that emerges is that of a charismatic, wonder-working Jewish holy man, and thus not the divine Son of God claimed by later Christian tradition.

Does anyone ELSE see a problem with this? If Jesus was a "charismatic, wonder-working Jewish holy man" and NOT the Son of God, WHY in the WORLD have so MANY gone to their DEATHS to proclaim that Jesus was who He claimed to be: THE SON OF GOD! Our illustrious and holy Pope Benedict also calls our attention to this fact in "Jesus of Nazareth" Those who actully bother to read this book will find themselves convinced by the logic of the Pope's exegesis...versus this "scholar's" idiotic claims.

“In Jesus of Nazareth, published under the alias of Joseph Ratzinger, the pope declares that the Gospels’ Christ of faith is the historical Jesus, thus turning the clock back by several centuries,” Vermes said.

Actually, the Baptismal name of Pope Benedict XVI is and remains "Joseph Ratzinger". Using the term "alias" is actually a red herring designed to discredit him. As a former investigator, I am well versed in the use of the word "alias", and it normally has negative connotations. Thus, this simple word "alias" actually gives us a very CLEAR and RESOUNDING signal as to the loyalties of the author of this article. And this author ain't fond of our Holy Father. Nor is he or the subject of the article (Vermes) a loyal son of the Church.

And you know, it's about darn time that the "clock be turned back" on "centuries" of what passes for "biblical scholarship" in this age! Would that Bultmann, Fitzmyer, and Brown never found a pen to express their idea of "scholarship"! Would that Modernism never found a foothold in the world!

Seriously, read the entire article. The "scholar" cited, Vermes, was a Catholic in Name Only. His parents converted in order to avoid the Holocaust, but were killed by Hitler, anyway. (Please pray for them, and for their misguided son). Vermes was ordained, and then reverted to Judaism, likely partially because he was never really Catholic. And I understand; the faith that should have saved his family still killed them. I can't imagine his heartache, but I still condemn his alleged scholarship, which conflicts with the Magisterial teachings of Holy Mother Church.

His interview is enlightening:

In a nutshell, what’s your objection to the pope’s book?

I reviewed the book in the Times of London, where I called it “pre-Copernican.” It’s the way he approaches the problem. He claims to be following the historical method, but when it takes him somewhere he doesn’t want to go, it’s no good. He even criticizes Catholic New Testament experts

The problem is that the Pope used the historical-critical method properly, not divorced from faith, and remained loyal to the Apostolic understanding of who Christ really was. In other words, the Pope wrote his book and his exegesis in the hermeneutic of continuity. As far as criticizing "Catholic New Testament experts", well, they're not experts. They are Modernists. They have left the faith and they are deconstructionists who reject Divine Revelation. The Pope's JOB is to denounce them! It's a HUGE PROBLEM when "experts" are trying to take precedence in their personal opinions over and above the authority given to the Magisterial teaching of the Church with regard to faith and morals!

He’s obviously fond of the work of the Jewish scholar Jacob Neusner, who seems to believe that the historical Jesus understood himself to be more or less what Christians think of as the Christ of faith.

Jacob Neusner is a very old friend of mine. We’re bosom pals. My impression, however, is that when it comes to the Gospels, Neusner is pulling our legs. Suddenly he becomes almost a fundamentalist Christian in the interpretation of the New Testament, only in order to disagree with it at the end. But it’s a very useful argument for the pope, because here’s this unbelieving Jew who’s acknowledging what the pope really thinks.

Anyone who actually READS THE BOOK will realize that Rabbi Neusner approaches the Christian perspective from a great deal of integrity, both from his own position of faith and also of the true Catholic faith. He does not compromise either, and ultimately disagrees with Christianity. Pope Benedict, in his own clear integrity, shows both the Rabbi's agreement and disagreement, but is classy enough not to refer to his dear friend Rabbi Neusner as a "bosom pal" as a way to give him seeming credibility. He allows proper scholarship to stand on its own, in black and white, allowing for agreement and disagreement for the enlightenment of all.

Would you give the pope credit at least for being conversant with modern Biblical scholarship?

As far as I can see, he’s conversant with the kind of scholarship he studied as a student. Apart from Neusner, however, he doesn’t seem aware of any scholarship that dates from after 1970. Of course, the pope was never trained as an exegete. I’m not sure how well he knows the languages involved. There are a few funny bits in the book that experts in Judaism at the time of Jesus wouldn’t say.

If the Pope is not "aware of any scholarshop that dates from after 1970", well, how exactly can the Pope condemn the very ideas that are most prolific in modern "experts", which build upon and outright plagiarize the "scholarship" of those who came before 1970? I challenge you to find ONE "expert" that Vermes will agree with that does not ascribe to the very same things that Bultmann, Fitzmyer, and Brown have advanced! (As I am not a Biblical scholar, I know there are more, I can check my course notes from this semester, but those are the big three.) I don't think that the "scholars" of the "Jesus Seminar" will qualify as offerings...they're following the path begun by those I cited and others who thought in a similar vein.

The pope wants to reconcile traditional doctrinal beliefs about Christ with what we find in the New Testament. Are you saying that’s just not possible?

It’s possible, if you follow the reasoning. Historical scholars distinguish between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. If you admit this distinction, you can then argue that the Christ of faith is an interpretation of the historical Jesus. You can hold this point of view, as long as it can be argued in a rational way.

Actually, as Catholics, legitimate Catholics, we believe that at one point God entered history and became a part of it. And in fact, we see that the sacrifice of Christ is the absolute CENTER of history. We cannot therefore divorce Christ from consideration of history. Nor can we divorce faith from consideration of Christ and what has been revealed, for Divine Revelation requires faith, a certain assent of the will, assent of faith, to what God has revealed. We can understand that God exists through rational and logical means, although if we refuse the gift of faith, we are nothing but naturalists, and thus we cannot be Catholic. God has revealed Himself, but if we choose to read scripture divorced from Apostolic Tradition and from a hermeneutic of continuity, we make ourselves heretics. St. Pius X denounced this same type of scholarship as "Modernism", which divorces faith from reason, just as described above. And Modernism is indeed the "synthesis of all heresies".

I offer this very article as a perfect example of it. Question any "modern biblical scholar" that renounces the Church Fathers, the hermeneutic of continuity and claims that the "clock is being turned back."


Anonymous said...

Dear Adoro,

Great writing. It is good to see what you are learning about and how "fired up" you are. Thank you for sharing what you have learned.

Pax et Bonum,


uncle jim said...

keep at it ... your scholarship is growing, and even glowing a bit.

read read read.

you can't be critical without the experience of having read and read and read.

so what do you do in your spare time?

Mark said...

As GKC pointed out, what do you mean you can't turn back the clock? if the clock is wrong, set it...

LarryD said...

Great post, Adoro. I believe it was Fr B Groeschel who said (paraphrasing here) that one of the most damaging movements in the Church of the past century has been the misapplication of the historical-critical method of Biblical exegesis. Vermes' stands as a testament to that statement (wow, a pun AND anagram in one sentence!)