Friday, March 07, 2008

On Writing Styles

In an article in Communion, Roch Kereszty writes regarding Pope Benedict XVI's recent book:

Jesus of Nazareth can indeed be profitably read by a college graduate, but it also provides new insights to learned exegetes and theologians. What is, then, its literary genre? Pope Benedict himself describes it simply as “an expression of my personal search ‘for the face of the Lord.’”

We can better understand Benedict’s unique blend of theology, exegesis, and contemplation if we compare it with the theological style of the Church Fathers and with that of St. Augustine in particular. When visiting St. Augustine’s tomb in Pavia, Pope Benedict explained that the second stage in Augustine’s conversion took place at the time when Augustine accepted ordination to the priesthood and gave up his contemplative scholarly existence for the sake of the ministry. He devoted himself to learning how to teach the most sublime mysteries of faith to the simplest folks in the city of Hippo. Through all this, he did not cease being a theologian; he merely abandoned the esoteric language and lifestyle of the scholar. Eventually, he succeeded in expressing the deepest theology in the simplest language, comprehensible for his provincial audience and
yet an enduring challenge for the learned.

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