Pope Benedict and the Ram in the Thicket


I’ve been looking for Pope Benedict’s discussion of the ram in the thicket (which replaced Isaac in Abraham’s sacrifice in Genesis 22). I thought it was somewhere in his Jesus of Nazareth books but I can’t find the precise page. Can somebody help me here?


Try Google Books.

It is mentioned in at least two compilations of his works:

Images of Hope

Behold the Pierced One

But I don’t know if that’s what you’re looking for.


Thank you for your speedy reply. And the quotes were very helpful. There is a profound theology at work here.

I was specifically looking for a passage (which I thought was in one of his Jesus of Nazareth books) where Pope Benedict points out (if I remember correctly) the connection between the ram and the stellar constellation (Aries or the Ram). I know it sounds a bit preposterous that Benedict would get into this but I think he may have been quoting from one of the Fathers of the Church. The idea here is that the crucifixion of Jesus (?) took place in March/April when the constellation of the ram was prominent. This is not astrology but more a concordance between the “event” of Jesus and nature (like the star over Bethlehem).


I don’t know the answer to your question but if you have not seen this YouTube video, you may find it interesting:
As you say, it is not about astrology.
God has many ways to speak to us. In the past when people looked to the stars, before it became a superstition, the heavens declared the glory of God.
I found it moving.


In Spirit of the Liturgy (trans. Saward), Part II, Chap 5 “Sacred Time,” p. 99, he states:

It has recently been pointed out that the date of Passover coincides with the constellation of Aries the Ram–the Lamb. This was of no more than marginal importance for the fixing of the date of Easter.


This is not astrology but more a concordance between the “event” of Jesus and nature (like the star over Bethlehem).

…except that the zodiac isn’t ‘nature’…it’s literature of a kind. Different cultures see different patterns and figures (of things that are familiar to them) in the stars. It’s really hard to bless this one set of figures without it becoming astrology.


Thanks for the reference. I spent some time looking for it today and just located it myself a few minutes before logging in tonight. It’s nice to know that there are people like yourself who can help out people like me.


I agree that it sounds like astrology but it really isn’t. And I agree it’s not “nature” as the term is understood in ancient philosophy or modern science.

Benedict calls it a “cosmic” image. If you have access to his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, please read the discussion of the ram in the thicket on pp. 99-100. It is really quite beautiful. The whole discussion revolves around the early Christian controversy regarding the dating of Jesus’ crucifixion (March 25). It’s rather uncanny that March 25 is also traditionally cited as the date of the conception of Jesus and the date of the creation of the world.


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