'Only God could ask what Jesus demands', Father Gerry O'Collins whilst speaking about Pope Benedict's New Book 'Jesus of Nazareth' on Today, Radio 4, 15 May.
In the interview (which you can still hear on the Today website, 24m30s into the 0830-0900 audio file) the reason for the Pope's writing the book is given as defending the authenticity of the gospel accounts against modern trends towards saying that we can know nothing about the historical Jesus. In the interview, Father O'Collins says about the Pope's book:
'I think he's engaged much more with scholars that he thinks are giving the impression that we don't know much about Jesus. I think he's not aware that there are many scholars who say that we do know a great deal - in this country, the United Kingdom, you've got people like Richard Bauckham at St Andrews and Graham Stanton at Cambridge and Jimmy Dunn up in Durham and Bishop Tom Wright of course - a whole bunch of outstanding Bible scholars. And they certainly think we can know a great deal about Jesus and that this is very important for our faith.'
O'Collins point is that the Pope has more allies than he thinks. The Pope aims his guns at Von Harnack and Bultmann - 'Bultmann didn't think that knowing anything about Jesus was very important to faith' - and not Dan Brown, so this is a book moving in the world of the scholar more than popular culture. O'Collins goes on to say,
'he engages with other scholars, like CK Barrett, a great scholar of John here in England, and writes very approvingly of him.'
Apparently, Pope Benedict also doesn't think John's gospel was written by John. Interesting... A rare and welcome bit of theology on the Today programme!