III. In the last post, I noted that in Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict says: “I trust the Gospels.” In other words, he invites us to read them as a record of a lived experience, attentive not only to the textual nuances but to the emotions and humanity of the people who had those experiences. Further, to “trust” the Gospels means that they communicate God’s Word reliably through inspired human authorship. He notes theories advanced that while Jesus was a historical figure, it was Paul or others who created the idea of divinity, miracles, atonement, and resurrection. But he asks: “Where did this Christology come from? How could those unknown groups be so creative? How were they so persuasive and how did they manage to prevail?” We know from the Acts of the Apostles and independent contemporary sources that there were other various “messianic” figures around the time of Jesus; indeed Barabbas is enshrined in the Church’s liturgy every Holy Week. But as Gamaliel says (see Acts 5:33-42)): “If it endeavor or activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.”
As we hear Scripture, then, we listen for the voice of our ancestors who experienced the action of God in their day, and we listen also for the voice of that same God speaking to us. It is only within the living community of faith that the word of God finds its full significance, just as a written musical score can only be fully appreciated in its performance.