You asked me what is the good of reading the Gospels in Greek.
I answer that it is proper that we move our finger
Along letters more enduring than those carved in stone,
And that, slowly pronouncing each syllable,
We discover the true dignity of speech.
Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.
[T]he Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’
[Job] shakes the pillars of the world and strikes insanely at the heavens; he lashes the stars, but it is not to silence them; it is to make them speak.
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!
Again and again, Jesus’ words exceed our rational powers. Again and again, they surpass our capacity to understand. The temptation to reduce them, to bend them to our own criteria, is understandable. Yet good exegesis requires of us the humility to leave intact this loftiness that so often overtaxes us, not to reduce Jesus’ sayings by asking to what extent we can take him at his word. He takes us completely at our word. Believing means submitting to this loftiness and slowly growing into it.
Somewhat random quick thoughts: I think on first read Job is utterly unappealing because of the sheer size of God, because he appears to be unwilling to listen to Job and simply brags about his power. Even more troubling, God is the one who picks Job to suffer in the first place, because he believes that Job will not curse him even when everything is taken away. The ending is also frustrating, with Job getting beautiful replacement children and more possessions than he had before.
In high school, my class read and discussed a number of books in the Hebrew Bible, including Job. As far as I can remember, that was the point where I actually began to appreciate Job. My entire class spent weeks criticizing how boring the rich poetry was, and how power-hungry God seemed. For my final essay, I tried to write the entire thing as a defense of this portrayal of God. I probably sounded very Calvinist, as I ended up having to appeal to the supremacy and power of God, and argued that God did not have to make himself more appealing to humans if he did not want to. But what I wanted to say, and what I think my essay reached towards, was this idea that God respects Job for speaking out.
In college, I took classes in which I began to appreciate the literary value of the book and its place within the Biblical canon. But, still, what I ultimately find most compelling about the text is that Job ends up thoroughly vindicated. Like the psalmists who lament and the prophets who moan about the wickedness of the people around them, Job demonstrates his faith, the kind of faith that trusts enough in God to challenge him to fulfill his promises and to explain himself, the faith that reminds me of the cry of Jesus on the cross. “Behold Job the human,” Daniel Berrigan says in his book on Job. “God takes him seriously.”
Man is a relational being. And if his first, fundamental relationship is disturbed - his relationship with God - then nothing else can be truly in order. This is where the priority lies in Jesus’ message and ministry: before all else, he wants to point man toward the essence of his malady, and to show him - if you are not healed there, then however many good things you may find, you are not truly healed.
This is the crucial moment when, from her lips, from her heart, the answer comes: “Let it be to me according to your word.” It is the moment of free, humble yet magnanimous obedience in which the loftiest choice of human freedom is made.
I am convinced that good exegesis involves two stages. Firstly one has to ask what the respective authors intended to convey through their text in their own day - the historical component of exegesis. But it is not sufficient to leave the text in the past and thus relegate it to history. The second question posed by good exegesis must be: is what I read here true? Does it concern me? If so, how? With a text like the Bible, whose ultimate and fundamental author, according to our faith, is God himself, the question regarding the here and now of things past is undeniably included in the task of exegesis. The seriousness of the historical quest is in no way diminished by this: on the contrary, it is enhanced.
Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives
How did I get to a place in my life where I buy the pope’s new book as a present for myself?