Monday, April 16, 2007

New Books By and About Pope Benedict XVI

Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI Doubleday (May 15, 2007). 400pp.
  • Jesus of Nazareth by Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, by Franco Pisano. April 13, 2007:
    “Product of a long inner journey,” the Pope’s book is not a magisterial document. It does however focus on the “historical Jesus” based on the Gospels, one that transcends those readings of the Jesus Story that reduce him to the status of a revolutionary or a mystic. First in a two-volume inquiry, the book looks at the life of Christ on earth and is designed to “favour the development of an intense relationship between the reader and Him.”

  • And He Appeared in Their Midst: “Jesus of Nazareth” at the Bookstore - Sandro Magister offers a chapter-by-chapter preview.

  • Zadok the Roman bought a copy of the Italian translation of Gesù di Nazaret and shares his initial observations.

  • Father John Zuhlsdorf was at the presentation of the Pope’s book, Jesus of Nazareth in the Aula del Sinodo on Friday 13 April 2007 and offers a lengthy account of his first impression:
    It is not new to receive a book from a Pope. In the past, they were the fruits of interviews, or they were biographical or poetry. But this is a work of theology. That’s new. Even though it is a work of theology, it is not a contribution to the Magisterium. That’s new. This point was heavily stressed in the presser. This book is a contribution of “Joseph Ratzinger” to all who are interested in Jesus. The novelty of this book is its context, coming as it does from a Pope. . . .

  • In February 2007, the Vatican responded to criticism of its choice of Doubleday as publisher -- while Doubleday had published the controversialThe Da Vinci Code, the Vatican noted it had previously published works by Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, as well as The Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as "the most important documents of the American bishops' conference. "On account of this respectful editorial curriculum, Doubleday deeply desired to publish also the first book by Benedict XVI." (See also The Forum: Why Doubleday as the Pope's publisher?, by Phil Lawler. Catholic World News. February 1, 2007).

  • The Next Battle For and Against Jesus Will Be Fought by the Book January 15, 2007. - "The upcoming book by Joseph Ratzinger / Benedict XVI intends precisely to pose the authentic Jesus against the false “modernized or postmodernized” Jesus," says Sandro Magister. "More than a publishing war, this announces a new phase of the perennial clash between acceptance and rejection that has always had in Jesus its “sign of contradiction, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
  • And you thought it was about Jesus! - Carl Olson examines some of the humorous and typically off-target coverage of the Pope's new book, which judging by the headlines is about Africa, the plundering and looting of rich Western nations, Karl Marx . . . did we mention Jesus?

* * *

The Regensburg Lecture, by Fr. James V. Schall. St. Augustines Press (April 30, 2007). 176pp.

[Pope Benedict's] Regensberg lecture is a mere eight single-spaced pages of text, but it encapsulates not only theoretical history of the Church, but touches on the most poignant current problems the world witnesses, namely, the rise of terrorism and the confrontation between reason and will, between the Word and the Sword. Though incredibly timely, it is as timeless as the Gettysburg Address, Pericles’ Funeral Oration, Plato’s Apology, and Henry V’s Speech on St. Crispin’s Day. No doubt it will be studied and read for generations to come, not only by Catholics, not only by Christians, but by men of good will the world over.

So it is fitting that our world’s modern G.K. Chesterton – James Schall – has chosen to explicate this most important work by the world’s premier theologian on the thorniest, most divisive questions of our day. Jim Schall, throughout the hundreds upon hundreds of books, articles, and reviews he has written, has always, like Chesterton, maintained a graceful and accessible touch, a clear and memorable style, that makes light work from heavy sources. He is the perfect person to explain both the central concepts and the importance of this amazing speech.

James V. Schall, S.J., is Professor of Government at Georgetown University. In addition to his many books and articles, he writes two columns, “Sense and Nonsense,” in Crisis magazine and “Schall on Chesterton,” in Gilbert Magazine.

* * *

On Conscience, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) Ignatius Press (January 26, 2007)

(From the Publisher:) Prepared and co-published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, this book is a combination of two lengthy essays written by Cardinal Ratzinger and delivered in talks when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ["Conscience and Truth" (1984) and "Bishops, Theologians and Morality" (1991)]. Both talks deal with the importance of conscience and its exercise in particular circumstances.

Ratzinger's reflections show that contemporary debates over the nature of conscience have deep historical and philosophical roots. He says that a person is bound to act in accord with his conscience, but he makes it clear that there must be reliable, proven sources for the judgment of conscience in moral issues, other than the subjective reflections of each individual.

The always unique and profound insights that the new Pope Benedict XVI brings to perennial problems reminds the reader of his strong warning before the recent Papal conclave of the great dangers today of the "dictatorship of relativism."

* * *

The Essential Pope Benedict XVI: His Central Writings and Speeches, edited by John F. Thornton, Susan B. Varenne. HarperSanFrancisco (February 20, 2007). 512pp.

The Essential Pope Benedict XVI: His Central Writings and Speeches opens with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's sermon at the funeral of Pope John Paul II April 18, 2005, and closes with his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), dated Dec. 25, 2005.

Major subject areas in the book include Christian relations with Islam, Christian values, birth control and abortion, sexual misconduct in the priesthood, the ordination of women, anti-Semitism and the Catholic Church, and ecumenism and interfaith dialogue.

"Now that a leading Catholic theologian has assumed office as pope, many are eager to get an overview of his theology," said Cardinal Avery Dulles in a back cover comment on the book. "The present selection, drawn largely from his shorter writings, gives an excellent sampling. It will provide a first orientation to beginners and will enable veterans to supplement their familiarity with this important thinker."

(Source: Catholic News Service.)

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