I received a comped copy of this book for review, but have not taken any other compensation nor was this post subject to any editorial review. (Besides the eagle-eyed grammar police of the commentariat).
I read Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration earlier this year, as part of the two-person book club I set up with the Dominican friar who sponsored me at my baptism. Although Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives is part of the same project, the two books felt very different tonally to me, and I’d recommend them for different audiences. The Pope’s first book, covering the early part of Jesus’s public life, read a lot more like a narrative, and his treatment of the infancy narratives feels a lot more like a reference book.
The new book is a bit more tightly focuses and much briefer. Ultimately, I wouldn’t expect to read The Infancy Narratives straight through, or even as a part of my preparations for Christmas. I’d keep it nearby to refer to as other readings in Advent and the Christmas season made me wonder “But why does the Church believe…” “What exactly does the Bible mean by…” etc. The Pope has put together a thorough and well-footnoted body of research on the nuances and historical controversies of the infancy narratives, helpfully grouped thematically. It’s useful to take along on a theological jaunt.