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Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration Paperback – September 15, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this rich, sophisticated introduction to the life of Jesus, the pope argues that Jesus brought to the world neither universal prosperity nor peace, but God. Indeed, Jesus cannot be understood outside of his relationship with God the Father, "which is the true center of his personality." Ratzinger explores the meaning of key moments in the Gospels, such as the temptations of Jesus, the Transfiguration, and the Sermon on the Mount, and points to passages in which Jesus adumbrates Pauline theology. He underscores Jesus’ being rooted in the Old Testament, showing, for example, that the Beatitudes participate in a long tradition of blessings, exemplified in Psalms and Jeremiah. Ratzinger draws on historical-critical scholarship of the New Testament, but cautions that the usefulness of strictly historical readings of Scripture is limited: one must also read Scripture theologically, and view each passage of the Bible as part of a larger canonical whole. This learned book cannot be read casually—Ratzinger draws on a vast array of scholarship, and he assumes familiarity with theological categories such as "Christology." But for those who are willing to work through Ratzinger’s text slowly, virtually every page will yield fruitful insights. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Begun before his election to the papacy, this is the first volume of a work that Benedict intimates he may not live long enough to complete. Its 10 chapters—on, respectively, Jesus' baptism, his temptation in the desert, the nature of the kingdom of God, the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord's Prayer, the disciples, the parables, the principal images of John's Gospel, Peter's confession and Jesus' Transfiguration, and Jesus' two self-descriptions, "Son of Man" and "Son"—are masterfully cogent and accessible essays in orthodox Christian exegesis. Canonical exegesis, to be precise; that is, the passages discussed in each chapter are interpreted within the prophetic context of the continuous document that contains them, the Bible. The meanings of Jesus' words, deeds, and person are always educed with the aid and understanding of the religious thought and practice of the preceding Hebrew Scriptures. While he aims to respond to the twentieth-century torrent of historical Jesus literature that in general makes Jesus a man of his time and place in Roman Palestine, Benedict doesn't repudiate or even much criticize that literature. Indeed, he accepts and looks forward to more of what archaeological and historical anthropological and sociological research has discovered about Jesus' milieu. As tender as it is erudite and brilliant, this is a book for every religion collection. Olson, Ray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 389 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586171984
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586171988
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (340 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Born in 1927 in Germany as Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI 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 tapped 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

526 of 546 people found the following review helpful By Michael Dubruiel on May 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A few months ago someone asked me what book I would recommend that they give to their adult children who no longer practiced the faith, without hesitation I named this book as the one. At the time I had only read some excerpts available online from Germany and Italy. It was an act of faith then, now that I have the book I know that my recommendation was justified.
This is a great book, magisterial (even though the pope doesn't want it thought of in that way). It is not just another book about Jesus, it a revolutionary book about that it recaptures why people have had their lives changed by their belief in Jesus for over 2,000 years.
What makes this book so special? It is like a modern Summa (those who know St. Thomas Aquinas will understand me here) in that it answers modern questions of doubt, skepticism and even inquiry on not only who Jesus is, but why Jesus is the most important person anyone has ever or can ever know.
The pope's methodology is to take a scene from the Bible, like the Lord's baptism and then to draw on that scene from the entire Bible, to show what modern scholarship has done to help us to understand the historical context of the scene, tell us how the early Church fathers interpreted the scene, how would it have been viewed in Judaism (he uses the reflections of a Rabbi when discussing the Sermon on the Mount) and then to give the reader the meaning of this event for them. Along the way he answers questions to the many objections modern people bring to their encounter with Jesus.
As someone who has studied theology for a number of years and been exposed to every screwball theology out there, I found this book to be a corrective lens to refocus and correct my vision of who Jesus is and what following him means.
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369 of 382 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on July 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The Pope, by his very position, tends to be a polarizing agent. From a young age, I caught whispers of Antichrist conspiracy theories in throwaway Christian tracts. Later, I read Morris West's unsurpassed "Shoes of the Fisherman," and discovered a wholly honorable and thought-provoking aspect of the Pope's position. With these warring extremes in mind, I simply had to read "Jesus of Nazareth" for myself, to discover if Benedict XVI was bringing anything new or worthwhile to the table of spiritual discussion.

To my pleasant surprise, I found this statement in the book's foreward: "it struck me as the most urgent priority to present the figure and the message of Jesus...and so to help foster the growth of a living relationship with him." Indeed, the rest of this tome does revolve around the divinity of Jesus and how that applies in our present times, both personally and publicly. While referring often to Church fathers and tradition, Benedict XVI addresses liberal theology's questions, as well as some of Nietzsche's dilemmas. He goes even further, addressing the real issues of the human heart in our modern age.

In a erudite manner, "Jesus of Nazareth" provides a text full of deep thinking and honest wrestling, while remaining accessible and immensely readable. It circles the central issues of Jesus' identity and message, puts out the fires with patient confidence, then hones in on biblical truth. He builds New Testament passages on Old Testament understanding, shows immense respect for Judaism, and offers a worldwide view of Christ's redemptive message. Although I still have issues with some of Catholicism's structural tenets (unwed priests, for example), I can find nothing but solid Christian doctrine in this book. If it's true that things trickle down from the top, then this is a good sign for a large portion of Christ's figurative Bride on earth.
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117 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Miller VINE VOICE on May 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Exactly how do you go about reviewing a book by a scripture scholar and theologian of the magnitude of the Holy Father? Well the task is easier than I thought it would be. For one this isn't a book addressed to a limited audience of scripture scholars and exegetes, but one that everybody can benefit from. I have read several of his books and I found this one the easiest to read. I am tempted to say something as cliche as "If you only read one book this year ..." if I didn't find this phrase personally quite scary and I suspect the Holy Father would have the same view on this.

"Jesus of Nazareth" is not a life of Jesus in the style of Romano Guardini's "The Lord", Frank Sheed's "To know Christ Jesus", or Archbishop Sheen's "Life of Christ." The Pope does not set to piece together the Gospels and present the story of Christ in specific chronological order. After the foreword and introduction the first of ten chapters deals with the Baptism of the Lord and ends with the Transfiguration and discussion of Son of Man, Son of God and Jesus' I Am statements. After reading the introduction and getting to the last chapter I was surprised to find that it is obvious that the Holy Father will be continuing the subject in a subsequent book. He mentions a part two in the introduction and I had originally thought that this was a delineation in his current book.

The main part of the book runs 358 pages and over the four days I read it I stayed up late into the night because I did not want to stop reading it. The foreword and introduction covers information such as his approach in writing this book and how problematic many previous works attempting to get at the "real Jesus" have been in the past.
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