ROME, February 24, 2010 – The first person he told that he had finished writing his book about Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, on the day after his visit to the synagogue of Rome, last January 18.Read a brief biography of Rabbi Israel Zoller, as well as Anna Foa's review, here (scroll down).
The rabbi is the American Jacob Neusner, and the author of the book is Benedict XVI.
The first volume of "Jesus of Nazareth" by pope Joseph Ratzinger was released three years ago. And now the second and concluding volume of the work, dedicated to the passion and resurrection of Jesus and to the infancy narratives, is ready for translation and printing.
Meanwhile, however, with significant coordination of timing, another important book about Jesus has been reprinted in recent days in Italy, entitled "Il Nazareno," written more than seventy years ago by a great Italian rabbi.
Not only that. A very positive review of this new edition of the book was published on February 20 in "L'Osservatore Romano," written by a famous scholar, Anna Foa, a Jewish professor of history at the University of Rome "La Sapienza."
And this review also marks an important new development. The author of the book, Israel Zoller, was chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Rome. And in 1945, he converted to the Catholic faith.
The stunning news of his conversion rocked the Roman and Italian Jewish community. And it responded with a silence that lasted for decades.
Anna Foa's review in "the pope's newspaper" has definitively broken this silence. Moreover, she has acknowledged that in that book, although it was written many years before its author's conversion, there already "seemed to appear between the lines a recognition of the messianic character of Christ."
Israel Zoller, took the name Eugenio Zolli in honor of Pope Pius XII after his conversion to Catholicism. An English translation of his book is entitled The Nazarene: Studies in New Testament Exegesis(1999), and was given a very positive Review of The Nazarene by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.