For Christians, Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, who died for the sins of the world, and who rose from the dead in triumph over sin and death. For non-Christians, he is almost anything else--a myth, a political revolutionary, a prophet whose teaching was misunderstood or distorted by his followers.
Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, and no myth, revolutionary, or misunderstood prophet, insists Benedict XVI. He thinks that the best of historical scholarship, while it can't "prove" Jesus is the Son of God, certainly doesn't disprove it. Indeed, Benedict maintains that the evidence, fairly considered, brings us face-to-face with the challenge of Jesus--a real man who taught and acted in ways that were tantamount to claims of divine authority, claims not easily dismissed as lunacy or deception.
Benedict XVI presents this challenge in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, the sequel volume to Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration.
Why was Jesus rejected by the religious leaders of his day? Who was responsible for his death? Did he establish a Church to carry on his work? How did Jesus view his suffering and death? How should we? And, most importantly, did Jesus really rise from the dead and what does his resurrection mean? The story of Jesus raises many crucial questions.
Benedict brings to his study the vast learning of a brilliant scholar, the passionate searching of a great mind, and the deep compassion of a pastor's heart. In the end, he dares readers to grapple with the meaning of Jesus' life, teaching, death, and resurrection.
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About the Author
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant theologians and spiritual leaders of our age. As Pope he authored the best-selling Jesus of Nazareth; and prior to his pontificate, he wrote many influential books that continue to remain important for the contemporary Church, such as Introduction to Christianity and The Spirit of the Liturgy.
Read an Excerpt
"Where Are You From?" ( John 19:9)
The question about Jesus' origin as a question about being and mission
While he was interrogating Jesus, Pilate unexpectedly put this question to the accused: "Where are you from?" Jesus' accusers had called for him to receive the death penalty by dramatically declaring that this Jesus had made himself the Son of God-a capital offense under the law. The "enlightened" Roman judge, who had already expressed skepticism regarding the question of truth (cf. Jn 18:38), could easily have found this claim by the accused laughable. And yet he was frightened. The accused had indicated that he was a king, but that his kingdom was "not of this world" ( Jn 18:36). And then he had alluded to a mysterious origin and purpose, saying: "For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth" ( Jn 18:37).
All this must have seemed like madness to the Roman judge. And yet he could not shake off the mysterious impression left by this man, so different from those he had met before who resisted Roman domination and fought for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. The Roman judge asks where Jesus is from in order to understand who he really is and what he wants.
The question about Jesus' provenance, as an inquiry after his deeper origin and hence his true being, is also found in other key passages of Saint John's Gospel, and it plays an equally important role in the Synoptic Gospels. For John, as for the Synoptics, it raises a singular paradox. On the one hand, counting against Jesus and his claim to a divine mission, is the fact that people knew exactly where he was from: he does not come from heaven, from "the Father," from "above," as he purports to ( Jn 8:23). No: "Is not this Jesus, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" ( Jn 6:42).
The Synoptics tell of a similar dispute that arose in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus' hometown. Jesus had expounded the words of sacred Scripture not in the customary manner, but by relating them to himself and his mission with an authority that went beyond the bounds of all exegesis (cf. Lk 4:21). The listeners were understandably shocked by this treatment of Scripture, by the claim that he himself was the inner point of reference and the key to exegesis of the sacred text. Shock led to denial: " 'Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?' And they took offense at him" (Mk 6:3).
They know perfectly well who Jesus is and where he comes from-he is one among others. He is one like us. His claim can only be presumption. Moreover, Nazareth was not associated with any such promise. John recounts that Philip said to Nathanael: "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael's response is well known: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" ( Jn 1:45f.). The ordinariness of Jesus, the provincial carpenter, seems not to conceal a mystery of any kind. His origin marks him out as one like any other.
Yet the reverse argument is also adduced against Jesus' authority, as in the dispute with the man born blind, after he received his sight: "We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man [Jesus], we do not know where he comes from" ( Jn 9:29).
When Jesus preached in their synagogue, the people of Nazareth had said something rather similar, before dismissing him as someone well-known to them and just like them: "Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands!"
(Mk 6:2). Here too the question "where is he from?" arises- only to be dismissed straight away by the reference to his relatives.
Jesus' provenance is both known and unknown, seemingly easy to establish, and yet not exhaustively. In Caesarea Philippi, Jesus will ask his disciples: "Who do people say that I am? . . . Who do you say that I am?" (Mk 8:27ff.). Who is Jesus? Where is he from? The two questions are inseparably linked.
The four Gospels set out to answer these questions. They were written in order to supply an answer. Matthew opens his Gospel with Jesus' genealogy because he wants to put the question of Jesus' provenance in the correct light from the very beginning: the genealogy serves as a kind of heading to the entire Gospel. Luke, on the other hand, places Jesus' genealogy at the beginning of his public ministry, as a kind of public presentation of Jesus, in order to answer the same question with a different emphasis-in anticipation of all that is about to unfold in the rest of the Gospel. Let us now try to understand more closely the essential purpose of the two genealogies.
For Matthew, two names are of key significance if we are to understand Jesus' provenance: Abraham and David.
The story of the promise begins with Abraham, following the dispersal of mankind after the building of the Tower of Babel. Abraham points ahead to what is yet to come. He is a wayfarer, not only from the land of his birth into the promised land, but also on the journey from the present into the future. His whole life points forward, it is a dynamic of walking along the path of what is to come. Thus the Letter to the Hebrews rightly presents him as a pilgrim of faith on the basis of the promise: "He looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (11:10). For Abraham, the promise refers in the first instance to his descendants, but it also extends further: "all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by him" (Gen 18:18). Thus the whole history, beginning with Abraham and leading to Jesus, is open toward universality- through Abraham, blessing comes to all.
From the beginning of the genealogy, then, the focus is already on the end of the Gospel, when the risen Lord says to the disciples: "Make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:19). In the particular history revealed by the genealogy, this movement toward the whole is present from the beginning: the universality of Jesus' mission is already contained within his origin.
Both the genealogy and the history that it recounts are largely structured around the figure of David, the king to whom the promise of an eternal kingdom had been given: "Your throne shall be established for ever" (2 Sam 7:16). The genealogy that Matthew puts before us is steeped in this promise. It is constructed in three sets of fourteen generations, at first rising from Abraham to David, then descending from Solomon to the Babylonian captivity, and then rising again to Jesus, in whom the promise comes to fulfillment. The king who is to last for ever now appears-looking quite different, though, from what the Davidic model might have led one to expect.
This threefold division becomes even clearer if we bear in mind that the Hebrew letters of the name "David" add up to fourteen: even in terms of number symbolism, then, the path from Abraham to Jesus bears the clear imprint of David, his name and his promise. On this basis one could say that the genealogy, with its three sets of fourteen generations, is truly a Gospel of Christ the King: the whole of history looks toward him whose throne is to endure for ever.
Matthew's genealogy traces the male line, but in the course of it, prior to Mary who appears at the end, four women are mentioned by name: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and the wife of Uriah. Why do these women appear in the genealogy? By what criterion are they chosen?
It has been said that all four women were sinners. So their inclusion here would serve to indicate that Jesus took upon himself their sins-and with them the sins of the world-and that his mission was the justification of sinners.
But this cannot have been the determining factor for the selection, not least because it does not in fact apply to all four women. More important, none of these women were Jewish. So through them the world of the Gentiles enters the genealogy of Jesus-his mission to Jews and Gentiles is made manifest.
Yet most important of all is the fact that the genealogy ends with a woman: Mary, who truly marks a new beginning and relativizes the entire genealogy. Throughout the generations, we find the formula: "Abraham was the father of Isaac . . ." But at the end, there is something quite different. In Jesus' case there is no reference to fatherhood, instead we read: "Jacob [was] the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ" (Mt 1:16). In the account of Jesus' birth that follows immediately afterward, Matthew tells us that Joseph was not Jesus' father and that he wanted to dismiss Mary on account of her supposed adultery. But this is what is said to him: "That which is conceived in Mary is of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 1:20). So the final sentence turns the whole genealogy around. Mary is a new beginning. Her child does not originate from any man, but is a new creation, conceived through the Holy Spirit.
The genealogy is still important: Joseph is the legal father of Jesus. Through him, Jesus belongs by law, "legally," to the house of David. And yet he comes from elsewhere, "from above"-from God himself. The mystery of his provenance, his dual origin, confronts us quite concretely: his origin can be named and yet it is a mystery. Only God is truly his "father." The human genealogy has a certain significance in terms of world history. And yet in the end it is Mary, the lowly virgin from Nazareth, in whom a new beginning takes place, in whom human existence starts afresh.
Let us take a look now at the genealogy found in Luke's Gospel (cf. 3:23-38). Several differences strike us vis-à-vis the list of ancestors supplied by Saint Matthew.
We have already established that this genealogy introduces the public ministry, it so to speak legitimizes Jesus in his public mission, whereas Matthew presents the genealogy as the very start of the Gospel, proceeding from there to the account of Jesus' conception and birth, and thus unfolding the question of his provenance in its dual significance.
A further striking difference is that Matthew and Luke agree on only a handful of names; not even the name of Joseph's father is common to the two. How can this be? Apart from elements drawn from the Old Testament, both authors have based themselves on traditions whose sources we cannot reconstruct. It seems to me utterly futile to formulate hypotheses on this matter. Neither evangelist is concerned so much with the individual names as with the symbolic structure within which Jesus' place in history is set before us: the intricacy with which he is woven into the historical strands of the promise, as well as the new beginning which paradoxically characterizes his origin side by side with the continuity of God's action in history.
A further difference consists in the fact that whereas Matthew climbs from the beginnings-from the root-to the present, to the top of the "tree," Luke on the contrary descends from Jesus, the "treetop," down to the roots, in order to show that in the end the ultimate root is found not in the depths but rather in the "heights"-God is there at the beginning of human existence: "Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God" (Lk 3:38).
An element common to Matthew and Luke is that the genealogy breaks off and comes to a stop when it reaches Joseph: "Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph" (Lk 3:23). Legally he was considered Joseph's son, as Luke tells us. Yet Jesus' true origin had already been made clear in the first two chapters of Luke's Gospel.
Whereas Matthew gives a clear and theologically symbolic structure to his genealogy, with its three sets of fourteen names, Luke arranges his 76 names without any outwardly recognizable pattern. Yet here too a symbolic structuring of historical time can be detected: the genealogy contains eleven times seven members. Luke may have known the apocalyptic formula that divides world history into twelve parts and at the end consists of eleven times seven generations. So this could be a discreet way of indicating that with Jesus "the fullness of time" had come, that with him the decisive hour of world history had dawned: he is the new Adam, who once again comes "from God"-but in a more radical way than the first Adam, not merely breathed into being by God, but truly God's "Son." While for Matthew it is the Davidic promise that permeates the symbolic structuring of time, Luke, in tracing the line back to Adam, wants to show that humanity starts afresh in Jesus. The genealogy expresses a promise that concerns the whole of humanity.
In this connection, another reading of Luke's genealogy is worth mentioning, one that we find in the writings of Saint Irenaeus. The text he was using had not 76 but 72 names. 72 (or 70) was the number, derived from Ex 1:5, that indicated the number of people in the world-a figure that appears in the Lucan tradition of 72 (or 70) disciples, whom Jesus set alongside the twelve Apostles. Irenaeus writes as follows: "To prove this, Luke shows that the genealogy of our Lord, which extends to Adam, contains seventy-two generations, and so he joins the end to the beginning and points out that it is he [Christ] who recapitulates in himself all the nations that had been dispersed from Adam onward, and all the tongues, and the human race, including Adam himself. Hence Paul, too, styled Adam a type of the one who was to come" (Adv. Haer. III, 22,3).
Even if the authentic Lucan text does not contain at this point the symbolism of the 70, on which Saint Irenaeus' exegesis depends, nevertheless the underlying intention of Luke's genealogy is correctly grasped here. Jesus takes upon himself the whole of humanity, the whole history of man, and he gives it a decisive re-orientation toward a new manner of human existence.
John the evangelist, who repeatedly raises the question of Jesus' provenance, does not present a genealogy at the beginning of his Gospel, but in the Prologue he grandly and emphatically proposes an answer to that question. At the same time he expands his answer to the question into a definition of Christian life: on the basis of Jesus' provenance he sheds light upon the identity of his followers.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . and the Word became flesh and dwelt [pitched his tent] among us" ( Jn 1:1-14). The man Jesus is the dwelling-place of the Word, the eternal divine Word, in this world. Jesus' "flesh," his human existence, is the "dwelling" or "tent" of the Word: the reference to the sacred tent of Israel in the wilderness is unmistakable. Jesus is, so to speak, the tent of meeting-he is the reality for which the tent and the later Temple could only serve as signs. Jesus' origin, his provenance, is the true "beginning"-the primordial source from which all things come, the "light" that makes the world into the cosmos. He comes from God. He is God. This "beginning" that has come to us opens up-as a beginning-a new manner of human existence. "For to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" ( Jn 1:12f.).
One version of the manuscript tradition preserves a reading of this sentence not in the plural but in the singular: "who was born, not of blood . . ." This makes the sentence into a clear reference to the virginal conception and birth of Jesus. Jesus' being from God, as affirmed by the tradition preserved by Matthew and Luke, would be concretely underlined once more. But this is only a secondary reading: the authentic text of the Gospel speaks quite clearly here of those who believe in Christ's name and who receive a new origin through that name. Yet the connection with the confession of Jesus' birth from the Virgin Mary is undeniably present: those who believe in Jesus enter through faith into Jesus' unique new origin, and they receive this origin as their own. In and of themselves, all these believers are initially "born of blood and of the will of man." But their faith gives them a new birth: they enter into the origin of Jesus Christ, which now becomes their own origin. From Christ, through faith in him, they are now born of God.
So John has recapitulated the deepest meaning of the genealogies, and moreover he has taught us to understand them as an interpretation of our own origin, our true "genealogy." Just as the genealogies break off at the end, because Jesus was not begotten by Joseph, but was truly born of the Holy Spirit from the Virgin Mary, so it can now be said of us that our true "genealogy" is faith in Jesus, who gives us a new origin, who brings us to birth "from God."
Table of Contents
Publisher's Note x
Introduction: An Initial Reflection on the Mystery of Jesus 1
The Baptism of Jesus 9
The Temptations of Jesus 25
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God 46
The Sermon on the Mount 64
The Beatitudes 70
The Torah of the Messiah 99
"You Have Heard That It Was Said... But I Say to You..." 99
The Dispute Concerning the Sabbath 106
The Fourth Commandment: The Family, the People, and the Community of Jesus' Disciples 112
Compromise and Prophetic Radicalism 122
The Lord's Prayer 128
Our Father Who Art in Heaven 135
Hallowed Be Thy Name 142
Thy Kingdom Come 145
Thy Will Be Done on Earth as It Is in Heaven 147
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread 150
And Forgive Us Our Trespasses, as We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us 157
And Lead Us Not into Temptation 160
But Deliver Us from Evil 164
The Disciples 169
The Message of the Parables 183
The Nature and Purpose of theParables 183
Three Major Parables from the Gospel of Luke 194
The Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37) 194
The Parable of the Two Brothers (the Prodigal Son and the Son Who Remained at Home) and the Good Father (Lk 15:11-32) 202
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31) 211
The Principal Images of John's Gospel 218
Introduction: The Johannine Question 218
The Principal Johannine Images 238
Vine and Wine 248
The Shepherd 272
Two Milestones on Jesus' Way: Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration 287
Peter's Confession 287
The Transfiguration 305
Jesus Declares His Identity 319
The Son of Man 321
The Son 335
"I Am" 345
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As a Protestant, Reformation-loving Christian, albeit respectful of the immense contribution of Roman Catholicism to the intellectual framework of Christianity, I had some trepidation at the outset of the reading of this book. I have since read it twice and eagerly look forward to Part II. Written while still Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, Benedict undertakes the immense task of examining the life and impact of Jesus of Nazareth, synthesizing the narratives of all four Gospels into a coherent and inspiring Christology, from the Jordan River to the Mount of Transfiguration. Benedict is a consummate scholar, familiar with all of the important historic and contemporary vantage points from which the life of Christ is appreciated. He is unfailingly kind to opposing views as he engages each in turn, but defends the orthodoxy of Christ--fully man, fully God--and the authority of Scripure with rigor and insight. This is most evident in his engagement of the ideas of Rabbi Jacob Neusner, himself a repectful dissenter from the claims of Christianity, in his "A Rabbi Talks With Jesus" (copyright 2000, McGill-Queens University Press). This dialogue between the two serves as an example of how those of different faiths might discuss and debate the essentials of their respective traditions without rancor. More importantly, Benedict renders both the pericopes (stories about) and parables of Jesus--and the various historic commentarites--accessible to the reader. He embodies in his presentation the characteristics of a true disciple of Christ, presenting both objectives and objections with a gentle and persuasive tone. He sheds light on how one might pierce the veil comprised of confusing interpretations of Jesus and his life, and find Jesus himself in the Gospel narrative. His patient and scholarly renderings of the Sermon on the Mount and the Parables of Christ were, to me, the very best parts of an already excellent work, and with some patience should be understandable to any serious seeker or student of Jesus of Nazareth. Finally, a work like this inspires not only a more comprehensive view of the One whom I call Lord, but gives me hope for a greater essential unity of all who go by His name, because Benedict highlights that which all believers share-- the possession of Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man.
What was helpful to me about this book is that Pope Benedict XVI wrote about Jesus Christ as a personal believer and as a theologian. I do not mean that to be a believer excludes being a theologian, but rather some books treat the Christ like he is a speciman on a theological petrie dish more than the central figure of our Christian faith. This book renewed my faith.
It was just as I expected from Pope Benedict . Thorough, fair, cerebral. He patiently explains the errors in many of the newest teachings coming from the likes of the "Jesus Seminar". With a thoughtful,professorial tone, he leads the reader to a proper and historical understanding of Jesus the man and Jesus Our Lord. We learn through careful documentation of the historical facts that the two faces of Our Lord are not mutually expclusive. His is man and He is Lord. Pope Benedicts' concern for the faithful to have an accurate understanding of the life of Jesus is apparent as he guides us through the events that shape the gospel stories. Take your time when reading this book. Though not a quick and easy read, the spiritual food is well worth the effort.
I am not a Catholic but my sister is and she suggested I read this book. I was pleasantly supprised. The pope got right to the point of who Jesus is and what he really brought to the world. He did not go into deep Catholic catechism but instead stayed the course, focusing solely on Jesus. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking the truth about Jesus or for someone who would like to know what Christianity is all about.
'jesus of nazareth' by pope benedict xvi is a very special book. it gives a great overview of what christ came into this world to truly do for us and the great love that he has for us. what I found special in this book was the pope seems to show how our savior really cares for each person no matter who they are. in this publication the pope says that christ thinks every human being is unique. I think this is comforting because it shows that this bestseller shows that the savior truly cares no matter who you are. this book is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket and would be great to give as a gift to someone special.
Powerful in its inspiration, profound in its insights. Almost certainly the best single exposition of the faith outside the Catechism itself. An intensively rich treasure. Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) is THE man on the theology of Christ--end of discussion. The quality of this book will surprise even the most loyal and pope-centered Catholic. It's that good, a genuine masterpiece that will stand through the ages. It will be a classic of the faith. I have not read all of the other writings of Pope Benedict XVI, but if this is not his signature piece I definitely want to read the one that is. No one else can speak so authoritatively on the teachings of Christ, and although the pope's voice is nearly always gentle, it speaks with unmistakable authority. Pope Benedict XVI may be the closest thing to the wisdom of Solomon the modern Christian world will ever see. Don't miss this book; the depth of understanding will floor you.
I had a paper copy of this book, and now got it on my Nook as well. I like it this much! This book talks of the life of Jesus between his baptism and transfiguration. The most famous moments of his earthly life: birth, crucifixion, and resurrection, are not in this book - they are reserved for future volumes by Pope Benedict. The book is not Catholic specific in any way. In fact, many Baptists and other Christians like it a lot too! If you read it, you will see that Pope Benedict is a very intelligent preacher with a lot of profound insights about Jesus. Highly recommended!
Quite by accident, I read "Credo for Today" by the same author. It was so well written and so amazingly helpful to me spiritually and in my research for the book I am writing, that I sought out my next read by Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. "Jesus of Nazareth" won out among many interesting contenders. Although I am very pleased to have read it; and, will find it useful when writing my book; it was considerably less moving and inspiring than "Credo for Today". Having said that, I do recommend "Jesus of Nazareth" for those making 'a daily conscience effort' in their own spiritual journey. I am excited to have found, what I consider to be, a truly gifted and divinely inspired writer; and, look forward to reading more of his work.
I have been an avid reader of many books by Cardinal Ratzinger, now pope Benedict. His approach to theological, social, and cultural issues of today is very closely aligned with my own, and in his works I find a very insightful foundation for the intellectual exploration of those issues. However, compared to most other books that he authored, this one comes across very differently. This is a much more personal and accessible account of the person and life of Jesus of Nazareth. Scholarly understanding is still there, but it is somewhat pushed to the background and given way to the more immediate access to the founder of Christian faith. In the light of that, it is perhaps best to understand this book as an extended homily. One of the main themes of this homily is a reaffirmation of orthodox understanding of Jesus Christ. There is a whole cottage industry of books that try to undermine this view of Jesus, and the pope would have none of it. This book was started before Benedict became the pope, and he continued the work on it during the first two years of his pontificate. It is inspiring and admirable to see such a sharpness of mind in an octogenarian. The book, however, has been without the inclusion of the passion and infancy narratives. The pope has expressed a hope to be able to finish those parts as the time permits. We can all hope that God gives him strength and good health in the years to come, so we can be enriched for yet another spiritual gem.
Not a good believer, but . . . I¿ve been a doubter most of my life. Benedict came close to entrapping me. The only thing that saved me was I knew I was dealing with the world¿s macro-genius of theology. Yet, although I did not come away as a believer, I did come away with a profound respect for this good man who so many accept as the Vicar of Christ on earth. If you like pope-books, try also John Cornwell¿s `The Pope in Winter¿, a wonderful record of the ups and downs of John Paul II. Also, for an eye-opener, get your fingers on Lucien Gregoire¿s `White Light Dark Night¿ a newly released biog of another of Benedict¿s predecessors, the 33-day Pope. We¿ve heard too much of his death. Finally someone brings John Paul I back to life: his struggles as an impoverished child, as a rebellious seminarian, as a revolutionary priest and as an outspoken bishop/cardinal. John Paul I had a very different definition of `Jesus of Nazareth¿ than did either of his successors.
Marvelous! The insights of the Holy Father about who Jesus Christ is, against what the world says He is or should be are so sincere, and timeless. He has an amazing way of making difficult theological concepts understandable... and just making you think.
I'm very impressed with the Pope right now. Jesus of Nazareth is a very thoughtful and elegant exegesis of the Gospels, in search of the reconciliation of the historical Jesus with the Christ Jesus. Benedict works chronologically through Jesus' life, beginning with his baptism and working through the Transfiguration. While he refers to a variety of scholars for historical contexts and interpretations, often he prefers to keep the exegesis insulated - he refers back to other parts of the Bible, the Torah or the prophets for example, to interpret the Gospel. It's a very sophisticated and often innovative look at who exactly Jesus was
An excellent answer by the most prominent figure in Christendom to the proponents of the historical-critical method and their false assumptions. Powerful.
Pope Benedict pens a biography of the flesh-and-blood Jesus as revealed in the Gospels. The pope shares his understanding of Jesus of Nazareth as the central figure of Christianity, who brough God to Earth along with faith, hope and love.
As a Roman Catholic, the content of this book is perfect. It was written to seemingly "set the record straight" due to so many interpretations of Jesus's life and his teachings in modern literature. The book studies the authenticity of the Gospels and analyzes major parables and events (Sermon on the Mount, the meaning of the "Our Father" etc).While not disputing any of the content of the book, I offer a warning to those who may wish to read it. This is not a book for beginners. It's not even a book for "mid-levels". The book mostly offers an advanced look at the life and teachings of Jesus taking for granted that the reader understands many movements with and against the Roman Catholic understanding. Many proper names and movements over the past 2000 years are referenced by name without any further elaboration on their background, assuming the reader already knows or will pursue knowledge. When Pope Benedict XVI was elected, he was dubbed "the thinking man's pope" to contrast his sytle to that of John Paul II who was able to appreciate the vernacular. Pope John Paul II was right for his time as he could work with the television media and understood the importance of sound bites. Pope Benedict XIV is perfect for his time as the prevalence of the internet facilitates the ease of communication, reading and research. This book reflects that style by offering a very complex look at the life and teachings of Jesus and his critics over the past 2000 years.I will read this again as I'm sure I will get something out of it every time I read it.
Although I am not finished with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's treatment of the life of Jesus, I can say that I am impressed with his broad knowledge on the life and exegesis of Jesus' teachings , Benedict's broad sources of material and the subtle way Benedict presents evidence of Jesus' special relationship with the job He was entrusted to by his Father. This is not light reading and should not be attempted by the neophite when it comes to theological subjects nor should it be read simply by Catholics who want to expand their knowledge of Catholic disciple and/or doctrine. It especially should not be read by enemies of Catholicism who are looking for leaky arguments in support of the Catholic faith: Both will be disappointed! Benedict takes a very sterile view of presenting the facts as they stand with little bias towards any Christian view. In fact, he attempts more often than not of presenting a universalistic view of the subject, making it highly acceptable to all readers, Christian or otherwise. BTW, I am a Baptist.
I started Jesus of Nazareth and immediately realized this book was above my understanding. I did not know this study guide exhisted untill I stumbled upon it. It is well worth getting. Especially if you are a "normal lay person". It makes this book easier to understand. I highely recommend it. It is set up in questions answeres and topics for each chapter.
Bought the book because I had enjoyed the audio book so much. The Pope is a very gifted writer