Pope releases final instalment of Jesus trilogy

'Childhood of Jesus' tells story from Annunciation to age 30

Pope releases final instalment of Jesus trilogy

(ANSA)) - Vatican City, November 20 - Pope Benedict XVI's new book The Childhood of Jesus was released at the Vatican on Tuesday. The final instalment of a trilogy on the life of Christ look's at his life before the age of 30, starting from before his birth at the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel told Mary she would bear the Son of God. "She was a courageous woman," says Benedict in the 173-page book, "a woman of great depth" who had "great internal closeness to God". Explaining his approach to writing the book, the pope says that in order to properly interpret the early life of Christ "there must be two steps: asking yourself what the authors meant to say in their time in history, and is everything that's been said true? Does it concern me? And if it does, in what way"? The Gospels of Mark and Luke and some of John are the primary biblical sources for the book, which also examines Catholic exegeses throughout history. Notable chapters include Benedict's assessment of Pontius Pilate, the prefect of Judea who authorized the crucifixion of Jesus. Benedict calls him a "rationalist Roman judge" who remains a "mysterious" figure, aware of those "who were fighting against Roman rule and the restoration of the kingdom of Israel". The pontiff goes on to call Pilate "sceptical" when Jesus declared himself king in "a kingdom not from this world". "The Roman judge wanted to know who he truly was and what he wanted," writes Benedict. The Italian edition of the book - penned in the pope's native German - is published by Rizzoli in conjunction with the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV). Rizzoli is reportedly in negotiations with publishers in 32 countries for the translation of the volume into 20 languages, compared to the nine for the previous installment. Publishers have released 300,000 editions in Italian. Benedict finished the book in August. The book took a few months longer to complete than expected, according to Vatican sources, and printing was delayed after the Vatican refused to price copies at 0.77 euros per copy, which was thought to be too cheap, ANSA sources said. Given the lack of Biblical sources on Jesus's life before the age of 30, Benedict has recognized his book should not be regarded as the last word on the subject, he says. "Anyone is free to contradict me," he said earlier this year. The pope's second instalment of the trilogy came out last March to acclaim from the Catholic and Jewish worlds. More than one million copies were reserved before its publication on March 11 and the volume went on to set a record for the German pontiff and theologian. The book gripped Catholics with its insights into Jesus's life, death and resurrection. Jewish groups hailed the pope's emphatic denial that the Jews were to blame for Jesus's death. From The Entry Into Jerusalem to the Resurrection focused on the events leading up to Christ's crucifixion and the meaning of his death and rebirth. The book was a follow-up to the pope's bestselling Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration in 2007.

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