.- Pope Benedict XVI has finished work on the first book of what he hopes will become a two volume exploration into the person of Jesus Christ. Press releases from the both Vatican Press Office and Publishing House announced today that "Jesus of Nazareth, From His Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration," is to provide a historic and theological analysis of the figure of Jesus.
However, in an advance copy of the preface the Pontiff reportedly admits, that because, “I don't know how much time and how much strength will still be granted to me, I have decided to publish the first 10 chapters as the first volume. The book, which has been sent to the Vatican Publishing House for printing, is expected to be released in the spring of 2007.
In its communiqué, the Vatican Publishing House thanked the Holy Father for sending the work along and announced its intent to work quickly for worldwide distribution of this, the first work of Benedict XVI. The Publishing House also announced that it has established an agreement with Rizzoli Publishing House for increased distribution of the work.
The Pope began writing the book when he was still a cardinal and serving as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 2003. He was able to put the finishing touches on it while on vacation this summer.
The Pontiff indicates in the book’s foreword that this should not be considered infallible from a magisterial point of view. "This work is not an absolute act of magisterial teaching, but merely an expression of my personal research into the face of the Lord. Therefore, everyone is free to contradict me," Pope Benedict stated.
The Pontiff said his intent was, "to present the Jesus of the Gospels as the one true Jesus, like the historic Jesus, in an authentic sense of the expression."
"The teaching of Jesus does not stem from human learning. It comes from intimate contact with the Father, from face to face dialogue, to see that which is in the depths of the Father. It is the Word of the Son," continued the Pope in his introduction.
The Rizzoli Publishing House announced that the work of the Holy Father is a "magnificent fresco, in two volumes, on what the Pope describes as ‘the mystery of Jesus.’"
As the work enters the world’s forum, added the Italian publishing house, "the Pope offers his original interpretations and historic-theological analysis of the foundation of the Christian faith, continuing with the scientific work that has been carried out over the past 50 years."
"Benedict XVI describes Jesus with great passion, permitting every reader to reflect inwardly and to be touched by Christ; at the same time conserving a rigorous scientific line that characterizes the writings and speeches of the scholar."