Oct 18, 2007
The words to describe this book are “wow” and “awe inspiring”. This deep, academic book is the first in a series of volumes that the Pope is planning to publish. General readers may have a difficult time with it, but will be able to appreciate the book with additional reflection and prayer.
The pope discusses and quotes various theologians and Fathers of the Church when examining his topics of the period of Jesus’ life from his baptism to the Transfiguration. However, he does not agree with all of them. In fact he refutes what some of them present. Some of the names of theologians he quotes are: Rudolf Schnackenburg, Peter Stuhlmacher, Rudolf Pesch, Joachim Jeremias, Pierre Grelot, Jurgen Moltmann, Joachim Gnilka, and many others. The pope quotes from various Church Fathers like St. Augustine, St. Cyril of Alexandria, Origen, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyprian, and others. He also refutes various philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, and others who deny Christianity’s benefit to the world. The pope also uses Scripture from Old and New Testaments in his discussions.
The pope in his foreword encourages others to enter into a discussion or dialogue with him on the life, works and ministry of Jesus Christ. He also says that this book is not infallible and he is not writing this book as part of his office as pope. He states the book is his “personal search for the face of the Lord.” In the foreword, he presents the history of the understanding Scriptures through time. He emphasizes the modern developments such as the historical-critical method. He also shows that the Second Vatican Council encourages scripture scholars and theologians to investigate the Scriptures to help the Church to have a better understanding of what God is saying to us today. The introduction sets the stage from a Scripture point of view for the Gospels and the life of Jesus.
As stated above, this is the first in a series of volumes the Pope hopes to write, but since he is 80 years old he wanted to make sure his preparations are published in case he cannot complete the set. That is why his first volume starts with the Baptism of the Lord instead of the nativity narratives of Matthew and Luke. He hopes to complete those writings and have that volume published in the future.