CNS is reporting that Pope Benedict XVI has completed the first volume of a major scholarly and spiritual book on Jesus of Nazareth, a book a began several years before being elected Pope: Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration (Rizzoli/Herder Verlag). Reportedly, in the preface, signed "Joseph Ratzinger -- Benedict XVI," the Pope wrote that for decades he had noticed a growing scholarly distinction between the "historical Jesus" and the "Christ of faith," a distinction that many Christians -- due to the influence of the German, Enlightenment-influenced historical-critical tradition transmitted through the tradition of liberal Protestantism -- now accept as accurate. But, wrote the Pope, if the human Jesus was totally different from the Jesus depicted in the Gospels and proclaimed by the Church, what does it mean to have faith in him? "I trust the Gospels," Pope Benedict wrote. While not ignoring the legitimate results of modern scholarly biblical criticism and historical research, the Pope declared: "I wanted to attempt to present the Jesus of the Gospels as the true Jesus, as the 'historic Jesus' in the true sense of the expression."
Benedict explained that after his election to the see of Rome, he used all his free moments to work on the book. "Because I do not know how much time and how much strength I will still be given, I have decided to publish the first 10 chapters" as Volume One of Jesus of Nazareth, he said.
I thank God that Pope Benedict is addressing this issue, which for so long has languished for lack of attention in the Catholic world. (Pope's scholarly book on Jesus scheduled for March release, CNS)