The International Theological Commission’s “Theology Today” and “Listening to the Word of God”

The recent document on “Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria” from the International Theological Commission has devoted 16 paragraphs to “Listening to the Word of God” taking up the insistence of Dei Verbum 24 that “the study of the Sacred Page” is the “very soul of Theology.” As the ITC document goes no further than the restatement of current Magisterium, the present essay reflects more critically on the challenge of “listening to the Word of God” today. More attention needs to be devoted to a conversation with contemporary biblical scholarship that tends to focus on the endless possible interpretations of texts, rather than Christian truths. This must be challenged. The biblical text can and does nourish theological reflection, as both Scripture and Theology relate restlessly to tell “the Great Story” (Arundhati Roy). This “restlessness” has the potential to generate energy for ongoing Catholic biblical and theological reflection.

God’s Gift of Servant Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark

Each Gospel was written to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ (see Mk 1:1; Mt 1:1; Lk 24:44-49; Jn 20:30-31). But Jesus is never a solitary figure. In each Gospel he calls followers and challenges them to learn from him as his disciples. (1) The disciples, present with Jesus at almost every turn, are major players in Mark’s story. Jesus is certainly the most important character, but the disciples also play a vital role. (2) Surprisingly, however, the disciples of Jesus, despite a positive start to their relationship with him, fail their master as the story comes to an end. Indeed, unless one accepts the longer ending of Mark 16:9-20, the story closes without any resolution of their increasing fear and failure across the latter part of the Gospel. Their last appearance is marked by fear and flight, as they abandon Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (14:50-52). Both Paul and the other Gospels tell of the presence of the risen Jesus to the disciples (see 1 Cor 15:3-11; Mt 28:16-20; Lk 24:36-49; Jn 20:18-23). This is not the case in the Gospel of Mark. There is no account of the appearances of the risen Jesus and the re-establishment of discipleship. (3)

The International Theological Commission’s “Theology Today” and “Listening to the Word of God”

The recent document on “Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria” from the International Theological Commission has devoted 16 paragraphs to “Listening to the Word of God” taking up the insistence of Dei Verbum 24 that “the study of the Sacred Page” is the “very soul of Theology.” As the ITC document goes no further than the restatement of current Magisterium, the present essay reflects more critically on the challenge of “listening to the Word of God” today. More attention needs to be devoted to a conversation with contemporary biblical scholarship that tends to focus on the endless possible interpretations of texts, rather than Christian truths. This must be challenged. The biblical text can and does nourish theological reflection, as both Scripture and Theology relate restlessly to tell “the Great Story” (Arundhati Roy). This “restlessness” has the potential to generate energy for ongoing Catholic biblical and theological reflection.

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