Barring any problems at the publishers, the second volume of Pope Benedict XVI’s two-volume biblical study, “Jesus of Nazareth,” will be out during Lent.
Ignatius Press will publish the new book in the U.S. and is set to release it on March 10. The volume will concentrate on the period between Christ’s entry into Jerusalem to celebrate his final Passover and his resurrection from the dead.
The new book comes on the heels of the Pope’s successful book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald.
Released last November, "Light of the Word: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times" has sold nearly a million copies in less than two months, leading the Vatican's newspaper to call it a "qualititative" and "quantitative" success.
"Light of the Word" offers the reader the product of 20 hours of interview time between Pope Benedict XVI and Seewald.
In conversation with Father Giuseppe Costa, director of the Vatican Publishing House, the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano spoke of the great reception the book received after just eight weeks of sales and widespread reading.
The paper called the it a "quantitative" success for the almost one million copies sold in 20 languages. There is already a second edition in Italian because the first round of books was swept off bookshelves so quickly. The publishing house has agreements with 14 other publishers, and editors are in negotiations to translate it into another 11 languages.
L'Osservatore Romano also remarked on the book's qualitative success, citing its capacity to "reach and fascinate the reader with a simple, direct, conversational tone."
Fr. Costa said that the publishing house has received letters from a variety of happy readers. "So many readers, also many non-Christians have felt the need to say thanks, after having finished the book," he said.
Parents have given the book to their children, children to parents and many have bought copies for friends and other relatives, he recounted. It is unique in that it shows "the human face" of a Pope said to be "reserved."
But, "this is flanked by the extraordinary liberty of Benedict XVI, who does not back down from any question," said the director of the Vatican's publishing house.
For Fr. Costa, "'Light of the World' is very appreciated because in its broad perspective it touches on various aspects of the life of the Christian, becoming a true and proper spiritual itinerary, and this makes it a book without a season and will make it a 'long-seller'."
For those who follow the Pope's words and writings closely, Fr. Costa had another welcome announcement. The publishing house plans to present "Jesus of Nazareth. Part Two. Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection" this March.
"I just sent the text off to various editors this morning," he said. He has finalized agreements with 20 publishing houses and has five more in the works.
Those who enjoyed the first volume, which covered Jesus' life from his baptism to his transfiguration, have been waiting since 2007 for the sequel.
Release date updated. Previous version indicated March 15 is the release date, actual release date is March 10.