Customer Reviews: The Essential Pope Benedict XVI: His Central Writings and Speeches
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on February 23, 2007
When I received notice of this book's forthcoming publication, I had my doubts about its quality. I stand corrected in any initial hesitations the anticipation of this volume lent me. I am very pleased with the work done by Thornton and Varenne (two rather `unknowns' in the world of Ratzinger scholarship). This is by far the best general summary of the thought of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI available today! Divided into eight categories of his writings, this book surveys a significant portion of Ratzinger/Benedict's work.

The Introduction by D. Vincent Twomey, SVD, is truly priceless. I cannot say enough about how on-target these remarks are. Perhaps the most striking comment for me can be found in the first paragraph of his intro: "Students of theology who quoted him [Ratzinger] were punished by their liberal professors, and those professors who did quote him - he is eminently quotable - would not reveal their source, lest the quote be rejected." (xvii). This has been my own experience and a real shame indeed. Having been on both sides of the above-mentioned fence, I can relate the disappointment that comes in feeling that one has to preemptively screen Ratzinger-inspired comments due to the tendency for the audience to dismiss or ridicule the remark solely because of hearsay-based reputation assigned to the thinker.

It is my hope that this collection of easily accessible nuggets of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict's thought and insight might help the greater community of professional theologians, as well as "armchair theologians," take the work of a theological giant of our time more seriously.

I do have some critical remarks about this book. The first is the omission of some of the scholarly notes that should accompany the texts. In the preface, the editors explain the notes' absence as allowing better flow and access of the material to the unscholarly: great in theory and intent, poor in practice. I found that to be disappointing. While the editors insist that their omission of contextual introductions to each passage was intended to make the book "about the author" and not "about the editors," I feel - as someone well versed in the theology of Ratzinger - that the novice reader of the material will not have a full appreciation for the snippet outside of its original context. Even a page-long intro providing some background to each document would have sufficed. The book is already 512pp why not another 40 or more elucidating pages?

All in all, I am overjoyed at this work. I certainly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the theology of our current pontiff. While this is not a scholarly survey of the thinker's work (see Aidan Nichols, OP, "The Thought of Benedict XVI" for a more academic survey), I am happy to see a popular publishing company (HarperCollins) take this field seriously and make available a valuable resource accessible to all.
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on July 17, 2013
As always The Holy Father offers fantastic insight into issues of our times. These insights are in conjunction with traditional teachings that have been gifted to us via sacred scripture and the Church Fathers. Teaching that never go out of date.
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on March 12, 2013
I would highly reccomend this book for devotees of Pope Benedict XVI.I plan to donate it to our Parish school.
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on February 23, 2013
This book is well worth reading regarding the thoughts and life of Pope Benedict XVI. I ordered it in the kindle format and am enjoying it immensely.
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on September 19, 2013
I miss pope benedict,I miss him so much it brings tears to my eyes when I see his angelic face.I want to read as much as possible on him,to go to bat for him. the book was o.k. a lot theories went over my high school educated brain.but all in all, I was moved...
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