VATICAN (SE): The Vatican released the Italian version of the third volume in a trilogy dedicated to the life of Jesus of Nazareth, L’Infanzia de Gesu (The Infancy Narratives), on November 21.
Written by Pope Benedict XVI under the name of Joseph Ratzinger, the book is jointly published in Italy by Rizzoli and the Vatican Publishing House. It went on sale in Italy on the same day.
It is scheduled to be released in German, Croatian, French, English, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish and put on sale in 50 countries in the near future.
It will have a worldwide initial print run of one million.
Ultimately, it is planned to translate the work into a total of 20 languages and to spread it around 72 different countries.
The book was presented to the media at Sala Pio X in the Vatican on November 20 by Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Maria Clara Bingemer, professor of theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro; Father Giuseppe Costa, the director of the Vatican Publishing House; Paolo Mieli, the president of Rizzoli Publications; and Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican Information Service reported.
The pope describes the 176-page book as being a small antechamber to the trilogy. It has four chapters, an epilogue and a forward.
The first chapter is dedicated to the genealogies of the saviour in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, which are quite different, although both have the same theological and symbolic meaning: the placing of Jesus in history and his true origin as a new beginning of world history.
Chapter two looks at the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist and that of Jesus. It says that God sought to enter the world anew in order to liberate humankind from sin and needs free obedience to his will.
Ratzinger says that in creating freedom, God made himself dependent upon people in a certain sense, as his power becomes tied to the unenforceable yes of a human being.
Consequently, it is thanks to Mary’s assent that the history of salvation began.
Chapter three is centred on the historical context of the birth of Jesus, the Roman Empire under Augustus and the entry into the world of a universal saviour.
It highlights the poverty in which he who is truly the first-born of all that is chooses to reveal himself and therefore the cosmic glory that envelopes the manger; God’s special love for the poor, which manifests itself in the annunciation to the shepherds; and the words of the Gloria, whose translation is controversial.
The fourth looks at the three Magi, who came to adore the child, as well as the flight into In the epilogue, portrays the Jesus who was growing in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man.
Ratzinger also lists off a series of things that are commonly believed by people, because they have been incorporated into the folklore of Christian storytelling.
He points out that many things about the way we tell the Christmas story could not possibly have happened or are not contained in the gospel narratives.
Although he has been accused of being a bit of a Christmas killjoy, the pope says that we do not not necessarily need to change the way we celebrate Christmas, but should be more aware of what is real and what has been imagined.
The release date of the English version has yet to be announced.