Revelation as Reconciliation

Pope Benedict of the week,

They just published his 1955 thesis on 13th century ramifications of Bonaventure on history. In Ratzinger’s reading the age of the spirit is not heretical and apocalyptic nor spiritualized. The age  is one of a fulfillment of spirit in reconciliation and peace. The thesis was semi-rejected since in the mid twentieth century mystics were seen as outside the mainstream.

The innovation of the thesis is similar to a thesis on Torat Azilut and Tikkune Zohar, which would reject Gershon Scholem and replace it with a fulfillment scheme. In Benedict’s approach, Tikkune  Zohar does not contain the seeds of antinomianism and transvaluation of Rabbinic categories as explained by Scholem, rather a proto-version of Rav Kook’s evolutionary vision of Orot Hakodesh. Such a Jewish application would use Zohar to move discussion of revelation in Judaism away from texts and toward the historical effect on the Jewish people and the Jewish embracing of the world.

Ratzinger dug deep in his research. And he discovered that in Bonaventure, there is a strong connection with the vision of Joachim of Fiore, the Franciscan who had prophesied the imminent advent of a third age after those of the Father and the Son, an age of the Spirit, with a renewed and entirely “spiritual” Church, poor, reconciled with Greeks and Jews, in a world restored to peace.

One of the examiners, professor Michael Schmaus, didn’t like the thesis. But Ratzinger avoided rejection by representing only the second part of his text, which had not received any objections.

If neo-Scholastic theology essentially understood Revelation as the divine transmission of mysteries, which remain inaccessible to the human mind, today Revelation is considered as God’s manifestation of himself in an historical action.


Many Jewish theories of revelation are historic, not scholastic, ranging from Eliezer Berkovits to Avigdor Miller and Jon Levenson. There seems to be something useful here to create a more externally focused view of revelation. Kook and Berkovits connect revelation to Zionism. How about repair, expansion, or completion?

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