Slaying with words
Regina Caeli

Ratzinger's Jesus

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2006 ( Here is a translation of excerpts from the Preface of the first volume of the book "Jesus of Nazareth," which Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI will publish next spring. The excerpts were made available by Rizzoli, the publishing house that has been given the international rights.

In the Preface to the first volume of his book "Jesus of Nazareth", Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, captures in a few carefully-chosen words just why the Christian churches have been steeped in idolatry since the time of the Graeco-Roman church fathers.

"Approximately twenty years after Jesus' death, we find fully displayed in the great hymn to Christ that is the Letter to the Philippians (2:6-8) a Christology which says that Jesus was equal to God but that he stripped himself, became man, humbled himself unto death on the cross and that to him is owed the homage of creation, the adoration that in the prophet Isaiah (45:23) God proclaimed is owed only to Him."

Certain arguments that Paul addressed to the Phillippians in the second letter were a warning to guard against self-righteousness and works glorifying themselves. In these arguments 'proof' is found for the false doctrine of pre-existence and for the high Christology of Joseph Ratzinger. Shorn of Paul's qualifying statements, verses 5-8 appear to support the accepted teaching.

Paul leaves no doubt, however, as to when Jesus existed in the 'form of God' for he continues in verse 9:

"Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name..."

It was after Jesus became "obedient unto death, yes, the death of the cross". Jesus existed in the 'form of God' after the crucifixion. It was as a man that Jesus emptied himself and took on the form of a servant. (See also John 5:26-27, Ps.71:16-17)

It is a pity that the point of Paul's utterance - the warning against self-righteousness - has become the servant of an ecclesiastical doctrine.

Until the Christian churches recognise that the foundations of their religion are based on pagan idolatry rather than the Hebrew Christianity of the apostles, they will continue to wander aimlessly in the wilderness notwithstanding their many attempts to grapple with the modern world.


Scott Merrithew

"In the beginning was the Word ... with God ... was God ... was made flesh and dwelt among us".
Very clearly scripture establishes, in the synoptic gospels, that Jesus was God before he was made flesh, and therefore, before he was crucified. It is no surprise to me that Paul agrees, but using the passage in Philippians to support your claim that Jesus emptied himself only as a man, is careless. It certainly does nothing to support your criticism of Pope Ratzinger.


Scott, thank you for your comment.

Nowhere in the New Testament is it claimed that Jesus of Nazareth was anything other than a normal man born in the normal fashion. This is a demonstrable fact.

Aside from the long-standing scholarly debates about whether the text should read 'the Word was God' or 'the Word was divine', to use John 1:1 as a proof of the 'divinity' of Jesus is to disregard the similar words in 1 John 1:1 where the 'Word' is identified as the Word of Eternal Life. The implications are self-evident - it is the 'word of eternal life' that existed from the beginning. Jesus is the personification of God's 'Word' existing from the beginning in precisely the same fashion as Solomon was regarded as the personification of God's 'Wisdom', existing from the beginning. (Proverbs 8)

John gives the spiritual presentation of Jesus that the other gospels lack and, unfortunately, it is from a banal interpretation of these spiritual words that doctrines such as 'pre-existence' came into being.

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