Free to disagree with me on Jesus: Benedict

Pope Benedict, who has completed writing the first volume of a life of Jesus, says that the soon to be published volume outlines his own "interpretation of the figure of Jesus" and "therefore, everyone is free to contradict me".

Reuters reports that Pope Benedict has decided to publish the first volume of the planned biography of Jesus because he doesn't know "how much time and strength" he has left.

The Holy See yesterday announced that Jesus of Nazareth, a personal, historical-theological analysis of Jesus as the central figure of the Christian faith, would be published in March next year.

It will be the first book to be published by the 80-year-old Benedict since he became Pope in April 2005 and will be distributed by Italian publisher Rizzoli, a unit of RCS Mediagroup, in cooperation with the Vatican's own publishing house.

In an advance copy of the preface released by the Vatican, the Pope says the work is the fruit of "a long personal journey" that began when he was a young man in the 1930s in his native Germany.

He says he started writing the book during his summer holidays in 2003 when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and has been dedicating "every spare minute" to the project since his election.

"Because I don't know how much time and how much strength will still be granted to me, I have decided to publish the first 10 chapters as the first volume," he writes in the preface.

In the preface he says the first volume of the book will cover the life of Christ from his baptism in the Jordan River as a young man to the Transfiguration, when the gospel says three of his apostles saw his divine nature and had visions of Moses and Elijah.

The Pope says the book should not be considered part of official, binding Roman Catholic teaching but is "my interpretation of the figure of Jesus of the New Testament" and "solely a reflection of my personal research".

He adds: "Therefore, everyone is free to contradict me."

Pope to publish first book (Scotsman, 21/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Rizzoli Publishers

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22 Nov 2006