COMMENTARY: The Pope Emeritus’ study of Scriptures was a hallmark of his spiritual life.
From his first moments as pope, Benedict XVI established biblical renewal as a key theme of his pontificate. In fact, he spoke at length about the proper reading and interpretation of Sacred Scripture during his homily for the Mass in which he was installed as Bishop of Rome.
This was unprecedented, and yet it arrived as a surprise to no one who knew the man’s earlier work.
Joseph Ratzinger was a product of his times, and his times were tumultuous and productive in the sacred sciences. In the years of his priestly formation, the Christian world was enjoying a renewal of biblical studies. Many of its leading academic lights, both Catholic and Protestant, were active in Germany and writing in German. An intelligent seminarian couldn’t avoid the conversation.
As he pursued advanced studies, he immersed himself in the scriptural interpretation of the early Church Fathers, particularly St. Augustine — as well as the medieval masters, especially St. Bonaventure.
But his study of the sacred page was not simply an academic exercise. It informed his preaching and his worldview; indeed, it became a hallmark of his spiritual life.
He served the Church as a professor of theology and then as a theological consultant (peritus) at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). In this role, he helped to shape what was arguably the Council’s most important and authoritative document, Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (1965).
Dei Verbum was the mature fruit of a decades-long Catholic biblical renewal. It was debated intensely and redrafted repeatedly. Many historians credit Father Ratzinger as the greatest influence on the document’s final form. And, more than any other document, Dei Verbum set the agenda for Catholic biblical studies and theology in the decades ahead.Pope Benedict XVI and Biblical Renewal| National Catholic Register