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Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives by…
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Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives

by Pope Benedict XVI

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  StFrancisofAssisi | Aug 2, 2018 |
Summary: A study of the gospel accounts of the annunciations, the infancy, and boyhood of Jesus of Nazareth.

I read this over the Christmas holiday and found this a wonderful study on the narratives surrounding the birth of Christ. The work, by Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) combines careful scholarship with devotional reflectiveness that evidences deep reflections on the details of these gospel texts in Matthew, Luke, and John. What follows are some of the details I had either not noticed or thought about in the ways Benedict describes.

The work is the final volume in the Pope's Jesus of Nazareth series. He begins with the question of the identity of this infant, posed in John 19:9 by Pilate. He notes the differing geneologies of Matthew and Luke and their purposes emphasizing the fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Davidic promise, and Luke's which emphasizes the one who represents all of humanity. One lovely detail was the focus on the four women in Matthew's geneology, none of whom were Jewish and all considered "sinners" yet through them came this child,

The second part covers the annunciation narratives, comparing and contrasting them. I had not thought before of John's descent from a priestly line, the forerunner of a new priesthood inaugurated in Jesus. I also appreciated the focus on Mary's response of seeking understanding, holding the word in her heart, and her "yes" to God. Benedict suggests that in one sense, she conceived this child through her ear, taking in Gabriel's (and the Lord's) word. Benedict also affirms the historicity of the virgin birth and links this to the resurrection as the two great miracles of Christianity.

Benedict then turns to the actual birth of Jesus and his presentation in the temple. Again, his attention to small, yet meaningful details struck me: the manger for the one who would be our bread, our food, the birth of the son of David among shepherds, and the angelic announcement. Benedict translates "men of good will" as "those with whom God is pleased," which he connects to the Father's statement about his beloved Son, with whom he is "well pleased."

The last portion focuses on the visit of the Magi and the flight to Egypt. He discusses their identity and the star. He then makes the observation that the star (or confluence of heavenly bodies) brought the Magi to Jerusalem but they needed the scriptures, God's revelation, to help them find the child in Bethlehem.

This short work ends with an epilogue discussing Jesus remaining behind in the temple as a twelve year old. Benedict observes the reply to Mary's "your father and I were looking for you." Jesus says, "didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house." Even here is a hint of his divine-human awareness, that it is God and not Joseph who is his father. Benedict goes on to discuss the idea that Jesus must be there--a sense of his mission, and a foreshadowing of the other "musts" that would take him to the cross.

While Benedict shows his awareness of the biblical scholarship and discussions around these texts, he does not allow scholarship to overtake theological reflection on the finer details of the text. One has the sense of being invited to stop and take a closer look with him, a look that leads to wonder and joy, which Benedict would observe is a good translation of the word for "Hail!" As I write, the season of Christmas has not yet passed. And even if you cannot read it this year, then have it on hand for next Christmas. ( )
  BobonBooks | Jan 2, 2018 |
On my list to read!!
  April44 | Feb 7, 2016 |
  MisaBookworm | Feb 2, 2016 |
When I read this booklet over Christmas 2012, I thought multiple times that the author was willing to drop the towel. Presenting the numerous inconsistencies in the accounts about Jesus' birth and youth, Benedict XVI at multiple times has to opt for a Deus ex machina. While the inconsistencies point towards other interpretations, Benedict has only the weak claim of dogma. It is so because it says so (or has been interpreted so). At the core, theology is not scientific and also only vaguely related to the humanities. A system of belief is at its heart incomprehensible with reason. This realization might have broken Inspecteur Javert's heart and mind. He might no longer have been willing to live with the inconsistency. ( )
  jcbrunner | Feb 28, 2013 |
Showing 5 of 5
Even to those who think themselves familiar with these texts [the Gospels of Matthew and Luke], every page of Jesus of Nazareth will present some pearl of great value, something that should have been obvious but that has been passed over in haste or inattention.
added by sgump | editWall Street Journal, Anthony Esolen (Dec 17, 2012)
 
There you have it: According to Benedict XVI, humility and joy are core tests for Christian authenticity. Let the conversation begin about whether those two qualities are actually characteristic of Catholic life in the early 21st century.
 
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This short book on Jesus' infancy narratives, which I have been promising to write for some time, is at last ready to be presented to the reader.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385346409, Hardcover)

The momentous third and final volume in the Pope’s international bestselling Jesus of Nazareth series, detailing how the stories of Jesus’ infancy and childhood are as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago.
 
In 2007, Joseph Ratzinger published his first book as Pope Benedict XVI in order “to make known the figure and message of Jesus.” Now, the Pope focuses exclusively on the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life as a child. The root of these stories is the experience of hope found in the birth of Jesus and the affirmations of surrender and service embodied in his parents, Joseph and Mary. This is a story of longing and seeking, as demonstrated by the Magi searching for the redemption offered by the birth of a new king. It is a story of sacrifice and trusting completely in the wisdom of God as seen in the faith of Simeon, the just and devout man of Jerusalem, when he is in the presence of the Christ child. Ultimately, Jesus’ life and message is a story for today, one that speaks to the restlessness of the human heart searching for the sole truth which alone leads to profound joy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:00 -0400)

This third and final volume of the Pope's bestselling Jesus of Nazareth series focuses exclusively on the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life as a child.

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