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“The term has recently been translated as ‘good news.’ That sounds attractive, but it falls far short of the order of magnitude of what is actually meant by the word evangelion. This term figures in the vocabulary of the Roman emperors, who understood themselves as lords, saviors, and redeemers of the world…. The idea was that what comes from the emperor is a saving message, that it is not just a piece of news, but a changing of the world for the better.

“When the Evangelists adopt this word, and it thereby becomes the generic name for their writings, what they mean to tell us is this: What the emperors, who pretend to be gods, illegitimately claim, really occurs here – a message endowed with plenary authority, a message that is not just talk but reality…. the Gospel is not just informative speech, but performative speech – not just the imparting of information, but action, efficacious power that enters into the world to save and transform. Mark speaks of the ‘Gospel of God,’ the point being that it is not the emperors who can save the world, but God. And it is here that God’s word, which is at once word and deed, appears; it is here that what the emperors merely assert, but cannot actually perform, truly takes place. For here it is the real Lord of the world – the Living God – who goes into action.

“The core of the Gospel is this: The Kingdom of God is at hand.

– Pope Benedict XVI, from Jesus of Nazareth, pgs. 46-47.

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6 thoughts on “Gospel Definitions: Pope Benedict XVI”

  1. m slater says:

    I am quite impressed with what Benedict wrote above but must admit I have never read any of his works. Are there any that are especially worth reading such as ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ or another book by him?

  2. trevinwax says:

    I’ve heard great things about his book on Jesus – and those great things have come from a wide variety of people from different denominations.

    I have not yet read anything by Benedict.

  3. John Inman says:

    I’m not a Benedict expert but Jesus of Nazareth is excellent. He’s not shy about saying Jesus is God, even when constructing a “historical Jesus”.

    He is the Pope so he’s still Catholic. But I would read anything you can get your hands on. He understands culture and its challenges better than most. The first book I read was his book “Many Religions, One Covenant: Israel, the Church and the World”. Fascinating discussion of Covenant Theology. Of course for him, the ultimate moment of covenant theology is the Eucharist. That’s the most frustrating part about reading his books. You’ll be reading along saying this is excellent biblical stuff and then comes Eucharist through the eyes of Aquinas and RCC teaching. And then you’re bummed.

    I’m not sure how theologians are ranked but he’s got to be a top 5 in the world contender and he happens to be Pope as well.

  4. John Inman says:

    I forgot Trevin was doing top 5 theologians. I think Benedict would be top 5 living.

  5. Trevin, I appreciate the content here.

    We often forget how politically radical the early Christian proclaimation. They used all the lofty language spoken of the Roman Emperors and inverted it saying that Christ’s empire (basilea) was the only reality.

    To say that Jesus is Lord is to say that the Emperor is not. Or in our contemporary world situation, to say that Christ reigns is to say that global capital is illusory.

    Whose empire do we really live in? What economy do we really believe in?

  6. This is a great quote.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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