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71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In The Beginning, 22 Nov 2012
This review is from: Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (Hardcover)
"Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives" is the concluding volume in Pope Benedict's trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth. It is the slimmest of the three books, but it's presented at the same level of accessible scholarship that characterizes the other two books in the trilogy. It is a work that is simultaneously scholarly and yet highly inspirational, and it's written with Benedict's characteristic thoughtfulness and sincerity.

Pope benedict addresses all the main points of the infancy narratives - the genealogies, the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist, the annunciation to Mary, the conception and the birth of Jesus, virgin birth, the Wise Men form the east, and the epilogue of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple. The book is written in Pope Benedict's characteristic manner of combining critical scholarship and biblical exegesis with the fidelity to the essential trustworthiness and truthfulness of the Scripture. People familiar with Pope Benedict's writing will know to expect a keen and refined intellect that is equally at ease at Biblical exegesis, theological reflection, and pastoral exhortations. Pope moves effortlessly between critical and insightful exegesis, highly developed theology, and effective and imminent preaching. He tries to discern the authors' motives and intentions when writing particular passages, and yet he never dismisses any piece of narrative as nave an quaint as many of the more "enlightened" biblical scholars these days are all to eager to do.

Catholic Church is truly blessed to have in the person of Pope Benedict all the virtues and functions that it aspires to manifest and carry out corporally as an institution. Pope's writing is very lucid and accessible, but it demands a certain level of familiarity with the more nuanced details of the Gospel narratives. Even though there are numerous scriptural quotations throughout the book I find that having a copy of the Bible on the side to be very useful. Sometimes it is important to look up the entire passage or the chapter from which the quote is taken. The translation that is used in this book is RSV, but any other popular English translation will do.

Even though he is an eminent theologian and leader of the over billion strong Catholic Church, Pope Benedict at no point uses his own eminent status to impose his views on the reader. He engages in a scholarly dialogue with other theologians and exegetes, and many of his statements are laced with qualifications. He comes across as someone who relishes intellectual vibrancy that may lead reasonable well-informed people to conclusions that are different from his own. He aims to persuade his readers by the reasonableness of his views, and not by the authority of his office or the scholarly accomplishments.

This book was published a few weeks before the Advent 2012, and it gives a good opportunity for all Christians to reflect on the profound mysteries of incarnation of Son of God. Of all Christian holy days, Christmas has been the most distorted though in the eyes of the popular culture. Every year it falls to faithful Christians to resist the temptations of the consumerist culture and try to remove themselves to a quiet place from where they can contemplate the true essence of Jesus's birth and infancy. The Gospel writers' main aim when composing the infancy narratives was to answer one simple yet profound question: who is Jesus and where does he come from? The answer to this question is equally profound and momentous for our lives as Christians. In meditating on it we can hopefully get one step closer to understanding the mystery that is Jesus Christ and how it affects our lives. Pope Benedict's book may not be the definitive answer to that question, but it is certainly as good as the best such answers in the two millennia of Christianity.

As mentioned before, this is a very short book -144 pages in the printed form (I have read the Kindle edition). It is a very quick read and can easily be read in one sitting, or in two hours at the most. However, the depth and intimacy of this book would be best appreciated if it's read slowly and with the appreciation for all the nuances of the arguments it offers.

There are some indications that this might be the last major book written by Pope Benedict XVI. I certainly hope that this is not the case. The World needs constant evangelization, and a person of his sensibility, intellect, and courage is an important and powerful voice.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Dec 2012 11:03:48 GMT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Dec 2012 12:57:23 GMT
You obviously have a great dislike of Catholics and the religion in general so do not bother making such comments to offend Catholics.
What a waste of time you must be.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Dec 2012 16:50:50 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Dec 2012 17:03:25 GMT
Michael Hurely:

"You obviously have a great dislike of Catholics and the religion in general so do not bother making such comments to offend Catholics."

I am not trying to offend Catholics or have any particular dislike of Catholics in general; many are good people. I am merely tryig to disccuss theology.

We're all a waste of time, unless our time is redemmed by God (Joel 2:24). Maybe YOU'RE special, maybe you don't need your time to be redeemed.

Even popes are a waste of time!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 23:58:53 GMT
flamingboy says:
Jesus has His own way regarding teaching and "karma" if you like. The teachings of Jesus are universal and reach people in whatever ways they do and in whatever form...peace and love.

We need as many books are as "necessary" on Jesus and why not?

Spread some love. Blessings.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2013 10:03:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jan 2013 10:10:03 GMT
flamingboy:
"We need as many books are as "necessary" on Jesus and why not?"

We already have four excellent books on Jesus: the four gospels.

The problems with books by the likes of Joey Ratzinger is that they add little if any truth to the story of Jesus. In fact, they often do the opposite.

The only point of these books is to make money for the Catholic Church and to endorse its own (false) teachings. And they are expensive, too.

But then, what do you expect from the Catholic Church, charity?

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Feb 2013 17:59:07 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Feb 2013 18:01:33 GMT
Exhausted says:
Honrus Publicus says: "I am not trying to offend Catholics or have any particular dislike of Catholics in general;"

Who are you kidding?

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Feb 2013 20:12:44 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Feb 2013 20:19:28 GMT
Exhausted:

"Who are you kidding?"

Nobody. I challenge FALSE THEOLOGY wherever I find it (if you look at some of my other reviews) which include looking at some books by American "End Times" (so-called) experts.

I also challenge JWs, Mormons, Jews, Orthodox and Muslims. NONE of them know what they are talking about.

The Bible predicts this time, when people will despise these self-promoting idiots (Catholic or otherwise) and learn REAL theology from God himself!

If the Cathoic "faith" were perfect it wouldn't need reforming, would it?
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