1. Religion & Spirituality
Scott P. Richert

Pope Benedict's New Book: The Perfect Christmas Gift

By November 27, 2012

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On November 21, 2012, Image Books (the Catholic publishing arm of Random House) published Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, the third and final volume in Pope Benedict XVI's best-selling series Jesus of Nazareth.Cover of Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (© 2012 Image Books; used with permission). The thinnest of the volumes by far (weighing in at 132 pages, compared with the 362 pages of Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, published in 2011), The Infancy Narratives is no lightweight book. I'm less than 30 pages in, and I've already spent hours pondering the Holy Father's words.

I don't mean to suggest, however, that Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives is meant only for scholars; on the contrary, it is written in a relatively simple style that readers from high-school age on will find highly engaging. Christmastime always sees a rise in attacks from atheists and the secular media on the historicity of the gospel narratives of Christ's Birth; Pope Benedict answers the main objections, while showing that only Christ can fulfill the Old Testament prophecies of a Messiah.

By itself, or in conjunction with the other two volumes of Jesus of Nazareth, The Infancy Narratives would make a perfect gift for any Catholic on your list. You can find the best prices on each volume using the "compare prices" link after each title:

While you're doing your Christmas shopping, make sure to pick up a copy for yourself. I'll have more to say about Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives soon; having your own copy will allow you to engage in the discussion here on the Catholicism GuideSite.

(Cover of Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. © 2012 Image Books; used with permission.)

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November 28, 2012 at 8:15 am
(1) diane says:

From reading some of the book reviews in my local newspaper this book tells the reader that there was no mention of any animals in the manger or angels heard on high the day Christ was born. The Pope jsutifies this by saying it is not in the New testament> I was always told that just because it was not in the bible does not mean it did not happen, especially when facts of catholic theology was questioned be “bible” Christians. So thsi seems contradictory to me. What purpose does Pope Benedict want to accomplish by taking the angels and the animals in the manger out of the story of the Nativity. After all he wasn’t there either when Christ was born. I beleive angels are always all around us and as far as the animals go they represent how all of Gods creatures worship the Christ child. In this time of history when Christianity is under great attack it seems to me it does not make sense to change the story fo the Nativity after over 2,000 years

November 28, 2012 at 10:03 am
(2) Scott P. Richert says:

Diane, don’t believe everything you read. Both secular newspapers and (unfortunately) Catholic ones are attempting to stir up controversy where none should exist.

Remember, the title of this volume is The Infancy Narratives. It refers to the two narratives of Christ’s Birth and early years, in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew. Pope Benedict discusses Christ’s life up through the finding in the temple through those narratives. While he does make reference to extrabiblical narratives and traditions, they are not his main concern in this slim volume.

I’ll be discussing these attempts to stir up controversy in a post sometime in the next week, but for now I’ll simply refer you to p. 69, where Pope Benedict states, “The manger, as we have seen, indicates animals, who come to it for their food. In the Gospel there is no reference to animals at this point.” Yet he immediately goes on to write, “But prayerful reflection, reading Old and New Testaments in the light of one another, filled this lacuna at a very early stage by pointing to Is 1:3: ‘The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand.’”

The Holy Father then goes on to discuss the theological significance of the ox and the ass, and why they became staples of every representation of the Nativity. And he ends that page with these words: “No representation of the crib is complete without the ox and the ass.”

In other words, Pope Benedict is not taking “the animals in the manger out of the story of the Nativity”; he’s explaining why they are essential, even though they’re not in the narratives offered by Matthew and Luke.

December 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm
(3) Matthew Trippe says:

Maybe I’ve been misled. I was going to purchase this book because I was told that the pope was revealing secrets not revealed to the public before..things like there really was not a crib when Jesus was born ( not a major revelation to me ), the fact that space aliens are also children of God, and treasures the vatican has( that the world will never see!) Is there anyone who ( has read this book ) can advise people like me ( who obviously live in a cave ) what this book reveals if anything new?

December 6, 2012 at 11:46 pm
(4) bob says:

in short of this pope want to revealed the truth that there is no such thing CHRISTMAS !!!! because u can never see Christmas in the bible..

December 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm
(5) Me :) says:

Christmas is not a feast from God, when you read the bible God clearly told us never add or take away anything from his book of truth. Christmas was originated from a pagan tradition but because it had been apart of culture for so long people forgot its origins which was actually to worship sun God. that’s why God told us the whole world would be led astray. All these worldly feast are made by man not God. Passover in old and New Testament I’s the only way to have Blood of Christ and is able to save us and protect us from all disasters expecially in the last days.

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