A retrospective study of Ratzinger’s Jesus of Nazareth trilogy, done in conversation with recent biblical scholarship, reveals the value of his hermeneutical insights on the Gospels. This article considers three principles that he emphasizes in the work. The first involves Ratzinger’s understanding of the historical trustworthiness of the Gospels. It is compared to that of Richard Bauckham, especially with regard to their description of the Gospels as interpreted history. A brief discussion of the Lukan census (Luke 2:2) is included as an example. The second principle concerns Ratzinger’s two-stage hermeneutic, which combines historical-critical investigation with patristic exegesis, an approach traceable to his early work on Bonaventure. As examples, the allegorical interpretation of the parables of the good Samaritan and prodigal son are reviewed in comparison with the work of contemporary scholars. The third principle regards the performance or living exegesis of Gospel texts provided by the lives of the saints. This principle, which also has echoes in recent scholarship, has implications for the interpreter.

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