Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Review: "Daughter Zion"
by Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict (Emeritus) XVI

Daughter Zion by then-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) is a work from 1983 in which the great theologian examines the Marian typology of the Old Testament, with analysis of all four Marian Dogmas: Mother of God (Theotokos), Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception, and Assumption. I give the book 9 out of 10 stars. (Book locations references below pertain to the ebook)

I would have given the book a full 10 out of 10, but there are times when the writing is over my head, and when Cardinal Ratzinger makes reference to other theologians' views with which I'm not always familiar. These characteristics sometimes make a few brief portions of the book a little esoteric. But a more versed theologian than myself may well find this book 10 out of 10. I ended up highlighting in this book what is probably a greater percentage of its totality than any other book I've read.

Part of the richness of this once future pope's book Daughter Zion is the emphasis on typology. I would venture to say typology is one of the most critical branches of theological studies required to grasp sound Catholic theology. The Catechism describes typology thusly:
The Church, as early as apostolic times,104 and then constantly in her Tradition, has illuminated the unity of the divine plan in the two Testaments through typology, which discerns in God's works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son. (CCC#128) (cf. CCC#129-130, et al)
There are many examples even in the New Testament of this method of understanding divine revelation. For instance:
Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. (Rom. 5:14)
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman.  But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. (Gal. 4:22-26)
There a multitudes of examples connecting the Old and New Testament. The book of Hebrews speaks often of the OT "shadows" of what was to come. In each case of a Biblical type,  New Testament "antitypes" are always superior to their Old Testament types (cf. 2 Cor. 3:11, Hag. 2:9, et al).

Cardinal Ratzinger unlocks a treasury of excellent Biblical theology often utilizing the principle of typology. The very title speaks of this in Daughter Zion, as he, in the tradition of Paul to Galatians above, recognizes a non-personal reality in an individual person as he associates Mary to the "people of God" encompassed in the term "Zion." He begins with the following description at the beginning: "[T]he image of Mary in the New Testament is woven entirely of Old Testament threads." (Loc 52)

And he points out a key factor in understanding God's covenantal plan altogether:
Contrary to a widespread prejudice, the figure of woman occupies an irreplaceable place in the overall texture in the Old Testament faith and piety. ... Consequently, a one-sided reading of the Old Testament can open no door for an understanding of the Marian element in the Church of the New Testament. (Loc 65)
In Mary, Cardinal Ratzinger not only recognizes the figure of "daughter," emblematic of "children" of God, but also Mary's role as "spouse" or "bride," in that the Spirit overshadowed her, bringing forth the life of Jesus Christ, and in this sense, Mary is spouse of the Spirit. Cardinal Ratzinger goes on to describe various feminine attributes of the Old Testament people including the femininity of "wisdom," prophetesses, and "judge-saviors."

So important is the concept of Biblical typology in understanding Marian dogmas, the Cardinal stated that Marian dogmas
cannot be deduced from individual texts of the New Testament; instead they express the broad perspective embracing the unity of both Testaments. They can become visible only to a mode of perception that accepts this unity, i.e. within a perspective which comprehends and makes its own the "typological" interpretation, the corresponding echoes of God's single history in the diversity of various external histories. ... Wherever the unity of Old and New Testaments disintegrates, the place of a healthy Mariology is lost.
Emblematic of God's people, both of the Old and New Testaments, whom bear fruit because of the grace of God, Cardinal Ratzinger notes: "She is the 'people of God' bearing fruit through God's gracious power." (Loc 303) Ratzinger goes on to discuss grace and its power in working with the will of the individual soul.

Later, he delves into the four Marian dogmas, utilizing Old Testament types in order to draw a fuller understanding of Marian theology, which, as noted earlier, is essential to understand Catholic dogmas on Mary. For example, after establishing Mary as "Mother of God," based on the reality that Jesus Christ the son of Mary cannot be amputated from his divine nature, and thus, Mary, as Mother of the second person of the Trinity, is Mother of God, Cardinal Ratzinger considers the Assumption. One theological derivation he makes involves Mary's title "Mother of God" with other Old Testament monickers associated with God's name. For example, Cardinal Ratzinger writes:
[Mark] proes the resurrection not from individual texts of later prophetic or apocalyptic literature, ...but from the notion of God: God, who allows himself to be called the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is not a God of the dead, but of the living. The resurrection itself proves that these names belong to the name of God: "As for the dead, that they will rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the section on the thorn bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?' Yet God is not a God of the dead but of the living––you have erred" (12:26 f.)  The right to veneration includes the certitude of the conquest of death, the certitude of the resurrection. (Loc 601)
And he continues:
We said that whoever may be glorified and priased together with God's name is alive. We added that in the case of Mary and in her case alone (as far as we know) it applies in a definitive, unconditional way, because she stands for the Church itself, for its definitive state of salvation. (Loc 629, emphasis mine)
There is much more detail to the theological sequence of Cardinal Ratzingers exegesis. Suffice it to say, once one grasps Mary's role as the superior antitype of the people of God of the Old Testament, one recognizes her as the avatar of the saved Church, the ones whom by grace say, "Let it be done according to thy word," (cf. Luke 1:38) and submit to God's will as a child, as a daughter of God. From there it is clearer to see death's grip lose hold on Mary as that type of the living Church.

Cardinal Ratzinger explains similar typological lessons with regard to all four Marian dogmas, ending with one of the more famous Marian types in the Ark of the Covenant.

In an age of skepticism and even other Christian traditions that do not accept Marian dogmas, this text is of great value to at least see how the Catholic theologian can soundly recognize the Biblical basis for Marian dogmas. Even if they are not, as some would say, "explicit" in the text in a formal way, the richness of Cardinal Ratzinger's interpretations show the sobriety of seeing Scripture in a deeper, and ultimately true, sense, just as did Paul above in Romans and Galatians, recognizing God's revelation to a people as it was fulfilled in a new covenant.

This book is well worth the read for anyone still looking to squeeze in something extra for Lent or any time of year. The paperback is only 82 pages long, but chock full of hundreds of pages "worth" of theology!

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