“This book is . . . my personal search ‘for the face of the Lord.’” –Benedict XVI
In this bold, momentous work, the Pope––in his first book written as Benedict XVI––seeks to salvage the person of Jesus from recent “popular” depictions and to restore Jesus’ true identity as discovered in the Gospels. Through his brilliance as a theologian and his personal conviction as a believer, the Pope shares a rich, compelling, flesh-and-blood portrait of Jesus and incites us to encounter, face-to-face, the central figure of the Christian faith.
From Jesus of Nazareth: “. . . the great question that will be with us throughout this entire book: But what has Jesus really brought, then, if he has not brought world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God! He has brought the God who once gradually unveiled his countenance first to Abraham, then to Moses and the prophets, and then in the wisdom literature–the God who showed his face only in Israel, even though he was also honored among the pagans in various shadowy guises. It is this God, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the true God, whom he has brought to the peoples of the earth. He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about where we are going and where we come from: faith, hope, and love.”
In this rich, sophisticated introduction to the life of Jesus, the pope argues that Jesus brought to the world neither universal prosperity nor peace, but God. Indeed, Jesus cannot be understood outside of his relationship with God the Father, which is the true center of his personality. Ratzinger explores the meaning of key moments in the Gospels, such as the temptations of Jesus, the Transfiguration, and the Sermon on the Mount, and points to passages in which Jesus adumbrates Pauline theology. He underscores Jesus being rooted in the Old Testament, showing, for example, that the Beatitudes participate in a long tradition of blessings, exemplified in Psalms and Jeremiah. Ratzinger draws on historical-critical scholarship of the New Testament, but cautions that the usefulness of strictly historical readings of Scripture is limited: one must also read Scripture theologically, and view each passage of the Bible as part of a larger canonical whole. This learned book cannot be read casuallyRatzinger draws on a vast array of scholarship, and he assumes familiarity with theological categories such as Christology. But for those who are willing to work through Ratzingers text slowly, virtually every page will yield fruitful insights.