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Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration Hardcover – May 15, 2007
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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 casuallyRatzinger 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 Ratzingers text slowly, virtually every page will yield fruitful insights.
*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
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Top Customer Reviews
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 Jesus...in 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. What impresses me (and I'm not easily impressed) is that the Pope takes on the "screwball (my term, not his)" theologies in such a way as to making them seem silly (although he is incredibly charitable in his approach).
This book will have a great effect on renewing the Church and centering it on an image of Christ that is Biblical and credible, erasing years of poor and faulty preaching and teaching.
If you are not Catholic, but a Christian you will love this book too. In fact I predict you will be come a big fan of Joseph Ratzinger and will want to read his many published works to encounter someone rooted in Scripture and conversant with modern attacks on it. If you are a non Christian I think you will find in the book an excellent introduction to what Christians believe about the God-man from Nazareth. To all you parents out there who sent your kids to Catholic schools and now wish they would practice their faith, give them this book and reintroduce them to Jesus of Nazareth.
Once you've read this, you'll want to check out the Pope's take on the Apostles, in an excellent follow-up to this book:
The Apostles: The Origin of the Church and Their Co-Workers
I am the author of The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book immensely, and it was clearly researched .Read more