Pope Benedict XVI once again delivers a powerful tome in his third and final volume of the Jesus of Nazareth series. I must admit at first glance I was slightly disappointed when seeing that the book was not even half the size of the previous two volumes. Like they say never judge a book by its cover!
Pope Benedict spends part of his time in Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives setting the birth of Christ into the time line of the world. He substantiates the gospel accounts of the birth narratives by showing where the birth falls in history. At one point in the book he makes a point to establish that the Gospels are not just storytelling but actual accounts of events that occurred. One such event is the Roman census which required Joseph to take Mary to Bethlehem to be counted. Benedict uses this event to contradict the current calendar and justify what other theologians have said, that Christ was actually born a few years earlier than our calendar states due to an error by a Monk.
The book outlines the entire birth narratives from the Annunciation, to the birth in Bethlehem, to the flight into Egypt. Benedict even goes into some detail on the finding of 12 year old Jesus in the Temple in the books epilogue.
As is typical with any of Pope Benedict’s writings you may need to read and re-read certain passages to allow what he is saying to “soak in”. Some may be intimidated by the fact that he is held in high regard as a theologian. Do not let that deter you from reading this book or frankly any of the multiple titles Pope Benedict (Joseph Ratzinger) has written. We have been gifted with perhaps one of the greatest Catholic theologians of our time as being our current Pope and we should take advantage of the knowledge he has put to paper.