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Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives by [Pope Benedict XVI]
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Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Review

Highly recommended. Without ignoring the findings of New Testament scholarship, the author is more interested in the spiritual meaning of the infancy narratives. This is the fruit of a lifetime's scholarship, prayer and reflection. Church of England Newspaper

About the Author

Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, born in 1927 in Germany, has been head of the Roman Catholic Church since April 2005. A prolific author, theologian, and university professor, Ratzinger served as an expert at the Second Vatican Council, and was appointed in 1977 by Pope Paul VI to lead the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. In 1981, Pope John Paul II called him to Rome to head the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he served until his papal election.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3134 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Image (21 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009UAO0W0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,103,597 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Nov. 2012
Format: 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 naïve 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.
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This is the third and last of the series written by Pope Benedict XVI., under the general title JESUS OF NAZARETH.
It provides the background to Jesus' birth and early life. The subject is treated with exegetical rigour, but the style is simple, direct, and leads to "lectio divina" for those who want to experience a deeper commitment to the Scriptural text.
The story of Christmas is moving in its simplicity. The book will appeal to the student of Scriptures and to those who wish to deepen their spiritual life.
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This account of the infancy narratives is remarkably clear and accessible to people who are not experts in Biblical scholarship. The book is small in compass, but contains all that the reader could wish to know, with references given to other scholars who might dissent from some of the conclusions that the Holy Father draws. I would emphasise that one does not have to be a Roman Catholic (like myself) to benefit from, and enjoy, this book. Dr Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) is, of course, a Biblical scholar of the first rank, and this little work is German scholarship at its best.
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I have journeyed through the Octave of Christmas 2012 in the light of the understanding of Scripture of Pope Benedict XVI, his third volume 'Jesus of Nazareth'.

His third volume appears to be a straightforward progression through the infancy narratives, but I soon discovered his thoughts to be more of a glorious lectio divina than of a commentary, made with the freedom of one who has such erudition within the summit of his mind, making it all the more theological in consequence. He sees and interprets every event in the infancy marratives that Scripture presents, observing all the prophecies that precede and viewing in all the circumstances volumes of significance for Christ's mission and ministry. Perhaps the most memorable feature of the book are such investigations that conclude with, "I tend to regard as the one true explanation..." or "It seems natural to me...", and I sat and savoured his closing comments regarding the 'finding in the temple': "It becomes quite apparent that [Jesus] is true man and true God, as the Church's faith expresses it. The interplay between the two is something that we cannot ultimately define. It remains a mystery, and yet emerges quite concretely in the short narrative about the twelve-year-old Jesus. At the same time, this story opens a door to the figure of Jesus as a whole, which is what the Gospels go on to recount."

There are some truly magical moments, quite often as asides (or deviations to follow a thread of thought, eg end of page 42 where he considers "the lofty theological task assigned to the child") and parts that are cosmic in their scope (eg mid page 100 where he considers "the language of creation").

I think this is a book that will reside in the memory of those who savour it as the scent of incense lingers long after the sound of the chant has died away, echoes that resonate in the heart.
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'There is no greater vocation for a Pope than to preach the gospel with conviction and urgency' (publisher's note on flyleaf). It's hard to disagree with this. The publisher goes on to claim that 'it is a masterpiece of its kind', and this is a claim we can sensibly examine. What kind of book is it, and is it a masterpiece?
It is certainly a book of very great strengths, as we should expect from the head of the Catholic Church. Ratzinger knows his NT well, and his OT too. As many reviewers have observed, it is wonderfully readable and concrete, in the best traditions of German scholarship. More, it is illuminating, drawing parallels and making connections - Jesus as the OT 'tent of meeting' who was 'pitched among us' (pp 11 and 22); the contrast between the annunciation of John the Baptist and that of Jesus (p 20); the way God puts himself at risk of rejection by Mary (p 36); the links between Matthew's Nativity story and Isaiah 1:3 (bringing us the ox and the ass), Psalm 72:10, and Isaiah 60 (responsible for the camels and dromedaries); the way in which the Gentile term 'King of the Jews', famously written by the Roman soldiers over the cross, reminds us of its earlier use by the Magi.
Moreover he is consistently respectful of Jesus' Jewish heritage, character, and family, notably in his discussion of 'the just man' (pp 19ff); and there is an elegant, almost Jungian discussion of the archetype of the virgin and child (p 55). These features of the book - making connections, writing concretely, exploring symbolism, respect for the values of the text - are all qualities of the great literary critics, and Ratzinger can hold his head up in that company.
So, why only two stars? For three reasons.
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