Original Research

Joseph Ratzinger’s contribution to the interpretation of resurrection belief: The Nicholas Copernicus of Catholic theology

Andrew O. Onazi, Tanya van Wyk
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2405 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2405 | © 2022 Andrew O. Onazi, Tanya van Wyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 October 2021 | Published: 29 March 2022

About the author(s)

Andrew O. Onazi, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Tanya van Wyk, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


In this contribution, it is argued that Joseph Ratzinger had a profound influence on the Christology and specifically resurrection belief of the Catholic Church. This is evident in the way Ratzinger approached the challenge and relevance of Jesus’ question, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ For Ratzinger, the reality of the incarnatory event means that the Christian faith is about a person, and thus, it is historical as well. In this sense, history for Ratzinger becomes more than just a succession of human events. It also includes God’s act in history. Jesus Christ manifested God concretely. In the same light, for Ratzinger, the Church concretely manifested Jesus Christ. Hence, for Ratzinger, thinking with the Church is essential for a proper exegesis or hermeneutics. Because of that, tradition and Scripture are essential to Ratzinger’s Christological thought. In the teachings of the Church fathers and the lives of the saints, he finds a concrete manifestation of Jesus’ teaching as contained in the New Testament. Thus, his spiritual Christology results from his meditation on the fathers, saints and some contemporary theologians that makes Ratzinger’s Christological thought to be both ancient and new. This contribution highlights a Christological approach that values the historical and brings it into conversation with the theological.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This research represents intradisciplinary work within the field of Christian Theology, connecting aspects of Catholic Theology to hermeneutical methodology and what is known as a Christology ‘from above’. It connects a historical and theological perspective within systematic theology to highlight the ways in which the Pope and theologian Joseph Ratzinger influenced resurrection belief within the Catholic Church.


Joseph Ratzinger; Catholic theology; Christology; Jesus Christ; history; church; hermeneutic; tradition


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