Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jesus of Nazareth

In the Spring of this year, Pope Benedict XVI's long-awaited book Jesus of Nazareth was finally released. I am in the middle of reading it and all I have to say is "Wow!" This book is a masterpiece from one of the greatest theologians of our time.

It paints such a vivid picture of Our Lord that is truly a culmination of Benedict's 80 years of study and prayer. He masterfully draws out inferences from the Gospels that seem so obvious once you hear them, but I know I never would have thought of on my own.

Unfortunately, most of the buzz that I saw at the time of publication focused on two sentences from the Foreword of the book (pages xxiii-xxiv):

"It goes without saying that this book is in no way an exercise of the magisterium, but is solely an expression of my personal search 'for the face of the Lord' (cf. Ps 27:8). Everyone is free, then, to contradict me."

That this seemed to be the focus of many commentator's analysis suggests how far into the book they actually read. Unfortunately, I did not see anyone include the next line in the book as part of their commentary:

"I would only ask my readers for that initial goodwill without which there can be no understanding."

I would be hard-pressed to think of someone that has the theological chops of Pope Benedict XVI. So, while this book is not an official pronouncement of the Church, I still wouldn't expect to find anything disagreeable from a man with his background (who also just so happens to be presently entrusted with the "keys to the Kingdom").

I greatly look forward to Part II!

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