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Covenant and Communion


"Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible:
this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the
Church and
of the Successor of Peter at the present time."


Covenant and Communion reveals the hidden key that unlocks the theology of Pope Benedict XVI. The first half of the twentieth century saw the emergence of three renewal movements in Catholic thought—the biblical, the patristic, and the liturgical. These movements converge and flourish in Benedict's theology as never before. He brings together the best of modern scientific methods of studying biblical texts with an unrivalled grasp of the history and tradition of the Church. Scott Hahn's introduction to what he describes as 'a theology of great power and beauty' is vivid and enthralling.

"In the growing body of literature on the theology of Benedict XVI, there is a conspicuously missing theme: the consciously biblical character of the pontif's theology. Hahn places Ratzinger/Benedict's concern for theology as a scriptural—and hence a liturgical—activity center stage with the verve and clarity we have come to expect from him. Hahn uses his encyclopedic knowledge of Ratzinger/Benedict's corpus to tease out many threads, weaving them into a compelling account of the new hermeneutic at the heart of Benedict's vision. Not only students of the pope but also all of us who desire the revitalization of theology and exegesis should welcome the passion and insight that Hahn has brought to bear on s his subject."

—LEWIS AYRES, Durham University

"A superb introduction to the way in which the theology of Pope Benedict XVI has been shaped by the Bible. Scott Hahn's crisp and clear analysis puts the reader at the very center of this remarkable pope's thought."

—GARY ANDERSON, University of Notre Dame

"Hahn here renders an important service in so clearly setting forth the hermeneutical principles, biblical nework, and doctrinal positions of Pope Benedict XVI, arguably the world's most important contemporary theologian. The parallels between the biblical theology of the pope and of evangelicals, together with their respective attempts to interpret Scripture theologically in an age marked by modern biblical criticism, are particularly fascinating."

—KEVIN J. VANHOOZER, Wheaton College

"A compelling manuduction right into the very core of Pope Benedict XVI's theological vision. In this clearly written and cogently argued essay, Hahn makes a convincing and highly pertinent case for what Pope Benedict holds to be the crucial challenge for the Chur:h and theology today—the reunification, and thereby the renewal, of exegesis theologically conceived and theology exegetically grounded. Theologically insightful an surefooted, this book is one of the best and certainly the most timely and urgent among the recent introductions to the theology of Pope Benedict XVI."

—REINHARD HüTTER, Duke Divinity School

"As a Protestant biblical scholar, I found Hahn's exposition of Pope Benedict's biblical theology both informative and inspiring. In spite of differences, Protestants need to read this book to understand how deeply we can agree on the primacy of Christ and the Word. Through Hahn, I have a new appreciation for the mind and heart of Pope Benedict."

—TREMPER LONGMAN III, Westmont College

"This is essential reading for any informed Catholic. I have been waiting for someone to expand and bring together the conclusions that Pope Benedict XVI brings to us in his powerful book Jesus of Nazareth. This is a very important book for all Catholics, clergy, religious, and laity alike."


"This is an extraordinary book. More than an introduction to Ratzinger/Benedict's theology— although it is this as well—Hahn's marvelous book provides an introduction to biblical exegesis, Catholic theology, and ultimately to the life of discipleship itself. This is a book for all readers, a rich feast of spiritual and intellectual transformation."

—MATTHEW LEVERING, University of Dayton


Covenant and Communion : The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI. Scott W.Hahn. Darton, Longman & Todd. ISBN 978-0-232-52775-6287.

Tim Matthews writes: In this wise book Professor Scott W. Hahn, Chair of Biblical Theology at Saint Vincent Seminary and professor of theology and Scripture at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, provides us not only with an introduction into Pope Benedict's theology, 'one of great power and beauty', but also gives us a broad introduction to biblical exegesis.

Never before in the history of the Church, Hahn points out, has a world-class biblical theologian been elevated to the papacy and so to all Benedict's pastoral teaching there is an intensely biblical quality. Centre stage, Hahn illustrates Benedict's concern for theology as scriptural.

The first half of the 20th century was marked by the emergence of three new movements - biblical, patristic and liturgical - converging in Vatican II's document Dei verbum which, as a young theologian, Benedict had a hand in drafting. Hahn admits how, over the past 25 years, this document and Benedict's writings (expected to fill 16 volumes) have had a profound influence over his own thought. '
His is a theology of great power and beauty'.

George Weigel has described John Paul's theology of the body as a kind of 'theological time bomb' set to go off with dramatic consequences for theology. A bold claim, says Hahn, 'and one I believe may prove to be accurate -- but I also believe a similar claim can be made for the biblical theology of Pope Benedict'.

Modern historical-critical methods

Benedict does not dismiss the modern historical critical method in biblical studies, but he has issued warnings and been one of its most forceful critics of its misuse.

We must recognise the limits of the historical critical method, because without the Church's interpretation of Scripture there is only a jumble of unconnected texts. This means a thoroughgoing revaluation of the modern relationship between faith and reason. Benedict sees the separation of faith and reason as a root cause of the grave problems of the world today; religious faith is no longer viewed as a source of true knowledge but regarded as mere feeling or sentiment.

The connection between faith and theology is not '
some sort of sentimental or pietistic twaddle but is a direct consequence of the logic of the thing and is corroborated by the whole of history'. Scripture and tradition form an inseparable whole, and it is this that Luther, at the dawn of the awakening of historical awareness, could not see'.

Reason and the methods of literary science both have their place, but in studying the scriptures, we must pursue a course of reverent listening. We cannot exclude the insights of faith - but much of modern exegesis does just that.

For Benedict, theology, is essentially Christology, a '
rational reflection upon God's revelation'. Divine revelation is historical: Judaism and Christianity are religions of history. He therefore stresses that to accept Christ as Israel's Messiah is to join one's personal history to that of the family history of Israel. The apostolic structure of the Church is an essential mark of continuity with Israel and it essential for us to remember this fact in our study of the Bible, in order to appreciate its rich depths and manifold meanings.

The Church is the living voice of the Word of God, Benedict insists. And here Hahn points out how the '
Word-centredness of Benedict's ecclesiology is truly remarkable - 'unparalleled among theologians of his generation'.

He explains how, through Benedict's eyes, we see the normative theologians of the New Testament are in constant dialogue with the Old Testament text -- the New Testament being nothing other than a spiritual exegesis of the Old. Later Scriptures interpret earlier ones, different sections of Scripture explain one another. '
The whole Book is the process of constantly new interpretations . . . Step by step light dawns'.

In his sweeping vision, Hahn concludes, Benedict sees in Christian worship the fulfilment of the history of religion: liturgy is the goal of creation and of the human person ; we are inserted into the divine plan for human history. What is new and distinctive about the Christian liturgy is that God himself '
inaugurates the new creation, makes himself accessible to us, so that, through the things of the earth, through our gifts, we can communicate with him in a personal way . . . Precisely because God himself has become man, become body . . . he comes through his body to us who live in the body . . . There is no authentic scientia Christi without falling in love with him . . . How exciting exegesis becomes when it dares to read the Bible as a unified whole',

In this short review we have only touched on a small number of points made by Professor Hahn. Overall his small book demands much study because it is truly wonderful - in the fullest possible meaning of that word.

[CF News] 1590.48

The following link provides the original review which is reproduced with permission.


SCOTT W. HAHN holds the Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology at St. Vincent Seminary and is professor
of theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, he is the author of over twenty books, including The Lamb's Supper and Reasons to Believe, and general editor of Letter and Spirit.


Copyright © 2009 by Scott W. Hahn
All rights reserved.

The above extract is reproduced with the kind permission of the UK publisher of this book, Darton, Longman and Todd.

Version: 5th November 2009

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