In the Beginning...: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall

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In four superb homilies and a concluding essay, Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, provides a clear and inspiring exploration of the Genesis creation narratives.

While the stories of the world's creation and the fall of humankind have often been subjected to reductionism of one sort or another — literalists treat the Bible as a science textbook whereas rationalists divorce God from creation — Ratzinger presents a rich, balanced Catholic understanding of these early biblical writings and attests to their enduring vitality.

Beginning each homily with a text selected from the first three chapters of Genesis, Ratzinger discusses, in turn, God the creator, the meaning of the biblical creation accounts, the creation of human beings, and sin and salvation; in the appendix he unpacks the beneficial consequences of faith in creation.

Expertly translated from German, these reflections set out a reasonable and biblical approach to creation. 'In the Beginning . . .' also serves as an excellent homiletic resource for priests and pastors.

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Editorial Reviews

New Oxford Review
"With penetrating insight, Cardinal Ratzinger here treats the profoundly important and far-reaching doctrine of Genesis.... I've not read a more profound or magisterial book in years."
"These homilies on Genesis...will be a source of light to many priests and religious educators who are seeking the deeper meaning of the biblical truths of dependence or of the Sabbath rest or who are looking for an answer to the claim that God's mandate "Fill the earth and subdue it" is responsible for the shameless exploitation of the earth that we have witnessed."
Library Journal
As the Vatican's Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger is responsible for public orthodoxy in Catholic faith and morals. The first four of his five sermons included here, which have been published in English (Our Sunday Visitor, 1986), originated as 1981 Lenten homilies given in Munich's cathedral to counter a modern abandonment of creation doctrine based on scripture. A fifth homily by a different translator augments this edition. Ratzinger's sermons treat God the creator, biblical creation accounts, creation of human beings, sin and salvation, and the consequences of faith on creation. The readable but challenging meditations attempt a balance between extremes of fundamentalism and rationalism and emphasize a unity between the Old and New Testaments. Notes are generally from German sources. Recommended for Catholic collections.-Anna Donnelly, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802841063
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 11/28/1995
  • Series: Ressourcement Series
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 100
  • Sales rank: 264,667
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Alois Ratzinger in 1927, served as the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from April 2005 through February 2013. Formerly he was Dean of the College of Cardinals, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and President of the International Theological Commission. An outstanding theologian and teacher, he was one of the founders, along with Hans Urs von Balthasar and Henri de Lubac, of the international Catholic journal Communio, and he has also enjoyed a distinguished teaching career at such universities as T�bingen and Regensburg in his home country of Germany.
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Table of Contents

God the Creator 1
The Difference Between Form and Content in the Creation Narrative
The Unity of the Bible as a Criterion for Its Interpretation
Christology as a Criterion
The Meaning of the Biblical Creation Accounts 19
The Reasonableness of Faith in Creation
The Enduring Significance of the Symbolic Elements in the Text
The Creation of the Human Being 41
The Human Being - Taken from the Earth
Image of God
Creation and Evolution
Sin and Salvation 59
On the Subject of Sin
Limitations and Freedom of the Human Being
Original Sin
The Response of the New Testament
Appendix: The Consequences of Faith in Creation 79
The Suppression of Faith in Creation in Modern Thought
The Consequences of Creation in Present-Day Thought: Three Forms of Concealment
Faith in Creation as a Basic
Decision about Human Beings
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2009

    Conversation Inspiring

    Our Young Adult Bible Study had a month between scheduled topics and didn't know what to do with that time. A member mentioned that this book was divided into four homilies and would be a good lead-in to our study of Genesis in the New Year. It has been that and more! Despite some scholarly language that was a little intimidating to some members at first, the content and the discussions that have arisen out of this book make it worth the time! Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope B16 knows how to organize his thoughts and the themes or Creation, Original Sin, etc are ones that are always current and worth exploring.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2009

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