The full title of this book is Jesus of Nazareth - The Infancy Narratives by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. Recently I have had the honor of delving into this much awaited book that I ordered for myself from Amazon.com - as soon as I saw it advertised I wanted to read it.
Before beginning the book I had completely read the New Testament several times, making it my Lenten study for a number of years. But I really hadnít thoroughly studied the Old Testament.
Pope Benedict XVIís analysis all through the text gave me a greater understanding of how events before the birth of Christ were preparing and leading up to the moment of Jesusí birth and mission on earth for us for all time.
Chapter I gets right to the heart of Jesus coming to earth with the question titled "Where Are You From? (John 19:9). Pope Benedict XVI goes into specific detail to answer this question and likewise all through the book by using biblical sources from the Old Testament and New Testament.
In Chapter II - The Annunciation of the Birth of John the Baptist and the Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus, I learned the most about the genealogical background of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth from reading and studying this chapter. It brought together in my mind how events of Jesusí birth were predicted in Old Testament text.
Chapter III - The Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem expounds on the nativity story in Lukeís Gospel in the New Testament - history, theology, and presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Pope Benedict XVI begins by pointing out that for the first time in history there is a common form of communication in the world - the Roman language, and therefore diverse peoples can talk with one another. Pope Benedict XVI points out that the word ecumene (with horizontal accents over the 2nd and 3rd letter e) is used in the text to describe this expanded government and Roman empire.
Chapter IV - The Wise Men from the East and the Flight into Egypt describes the historical setting and geographical location. The chapter traces back the lineage of King David as being born in Bethlehem, which Pope Benedict XVI considers to have a theological significance. Then there are the questions of who The Magi were, the significance of The Star, about Jerusalem - Stopping Point On The Journey, and two more subtitles - The Worship Of The Wise Men Before Jesus, and Flight Into Egypt And Return To The Land Of Israel.
The Epilogue called The Twelve-Year-Old Jesus in the Temple shows us that Jesus took his role of Son of God seriously, even though his mission was to open a new avenue for us to feel close to our Heavenly Father. To me it is poignant to hear the words of Jesus to his parents after they had been looking for him "I am in the very place where I belong - with the Father, in his house."
I like that Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to delve into the early childhood of Jesus and help us better understand his role as both human and Divine, and how Jesus, too, at this age understood his role.
I recommend this book to sincere followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
Take a page for your daily meditation and reflect on its inner messages. Relish and learn.
Details - hardcover 144 pages; Image Publisher (November 21, 2012); ISBN-10: 0385346409 ISBN-13: 978-0385346405
Review by Susan Helene Kramer, BellaOnline Meditation Editor