Monday, November 15, 2010

The Truly Normative Theologians

Folks, I found the other day this quote from then Cardinal Ratzinger, today’s Pope Benedict XVI, that left me thinking:

“The normative theologians are the authors of Scripture.”

He said so in his Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology. In fact, the quote came to  mind after I read this piece published in JTA about “theological expert” John Dominic Crossan’s newest book on the Our Father.

Mr. Crossan’s thesis? That the Our Father is “is utterly, totally, fully Jewish, there’s nothing in it that is particularly Christian”; that “within the context of Judaism in the 1st century CE, the term “Father,” or “Abba” in Aramaic, would connote a Householder, who must provide equally for all members of his family” and that, in that sense, God is “The Big Householder in the Sky,” who exercises “distributive justice” and who would be appalled by the huge discrepancy between rich and poor, Mr. Crossan argues.

Rubbish. Another fishing expedition for a liberation theology from someone who Mr. Crossan has previously termed “a wandering Cynic”.

How this “correct understanding” of the our Father jives with Judaism should be puzzling first and foremost to Jews, who in Jesus’ time had problems understanding God as a Father beyond its “Originator” meaning, but now should be seen as “The Big Householder in the Sky.”

Mr. Crossan asserts that there is “a huge discrepancy between what most people think Christianity is really about and what Jesus thinks Christianity is really about.”  That is certainly true, but particularly when John Dominic Crossan is the speaker.  He is not a normative theologian.

- Want to read something deep and truly joyous about biblical theology? Read the newly-published exhortation Verbum Domini: Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church (September 30, 2010), with the added advantage that is both free and authoritative. Save your money and send Mr. Crossan packing!