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  • Dark Passages of the Bible: Engaging Scripture with Benedict XVI & Thomas Aquinas by Matthew J. Ramage
  • Anthony Giambrone O.P.
Dark Passages of the Bible: Engaging Scripture with Benedict XVI & Thomas Aquinas. By Matthew J. Ramage. Washington, D.C. The Catholic University of America Press, 2013. Pp. viii + 303. $39.95 (paper). ISBN: 978-0-8132-2156-4.

Joseph Ratzinger's famous 1988 Erasmus Lecture, "Biblical Interpretation in Crisis," has become a reference point for many concerned with the state of theology today and compelled by the then cardinal's call for a "criticism of criticism." In the conference following the lecture, Ratzinger expanded on his vision for a new exegetical synthesis that might profitably fuse the patristic/medieval ("Method A") and modern historical-critical ("Method B") methods. This "Method C" exegesis would be receptive to the strengths of both, while keenly cognizant of their shortcomings.

Joseph Ratzinger's famous 1988 Erasmus Lecture, "Biblical Interpretation in Crisis," has become a reference point for many concerned with the state of theology today and compelled by the then cardinal's call for a "criticism of criticism." In the conference following the lecture, Ratzinger expanded on his vision for a new exegetical synthesis that might profitably fuse the patristic/medieval ("Method A") and modern historical-critical ("Method B") methods. This "Method C" exegesis would be receptive to the strengths of both, while keenly cognizant of their shortcomings.

In this revised version of his dissertation, written at Ave Maria University under the direction of Gregory Vall, Matthew Ramage makes a sustained plaidoyer for Ratzinger's proposed Method C. For Ramage, the method effectively entails coupling a fundamental commitment to the divine authorship of Scripture with attentiveness to the voice(s) of the human authors. From this theological point of departure, Ramage then endeavors to put the method concretely to the test, confronting head-on a series of "dark passages" that Ratzinger as pope identified in his postsynodal exhortation Verbum Domini (§ 42), trying to balance the divine and human aspects that stand in peculiar tension in these texts. Specifically, these problematic passages all rest uneasily with the doctrine of biblical inerrancy—not for the challenge they pose to historical or scientific truths (e.g., evolution) but rather for the way they apparently contradict theological propositions about the nature of God, good and evil, and the afterlife. It is the burden of the book to demonstrate that, although at a literal level the presence of false ideas and assumptions about these themes must be honestly recognized, the theological inconcinnity of such texts may be resolved with a proper view of inspiration and divine authorship.

Ramage's exposition of the "dark passages" in his first chapter sets the stage and neatly distinguishes three ranges of texts. First, there are those numerous passages that work with polytheistic assumptions and thus undermine Israel's (and the Church's) understanding of the oneness of God's nature [End Page 273] (e.g., Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Exod 5:2-3; 20:2-3; Deut 4:7; Ps 86:8; 95:3; 96:4; 97:9; 135:5; 136:2; Isa 6:8). Second, a list of cases is made in which God either himself performs or directly commands evil actions such as the ban (Gen 7:23; Exod 4:24; 12:29; Deut 2:33-34; 7:1-2; 20:16-17; 1 Sam 15:8-9; 2 Kings 19:35; Ezek 20:23-26; cf. Exod 4:21; Judg 9:23; 1 Sam 16:14; 1 Kings 22:19-22; Hosea 13:16; Ps 137:8-9; also Rom 9:18; 11:7-8). Finally, a significant number of Old Testament texts are catalogued in which the reality of life after death goes unrecognized and is even flatly denied (e.g., Isa 26:14; 38:18; Ps 6:4-5; 30:9; 88:3-12; 89:48; Job 7:9; 14:11; 16:22; Sir 17:27-30; 38:16, 20-23; Eccles 3:19-20; 9:5, 10). In each case, Method A exegesis tended to soft-pedal the difficulties, which were more honestly acknowledged by Method B.

Having thus identified...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 273-277
Launched on MUSE
2017-11-28
Open Access
No
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