The story of the birth of Christ and its relevance for modern man is at the heart of a new book by Pope Benedict XVI, to be published in December, excerpts of which were released on Tuesday.
The Childhood of Jesus completes a trilogy by the pope on the figure and message of Christ.
"Here I have now tried to interpret, in dialogue with exegetes from the past and present, what Mathew and Luke tell us at the start of their Gospels about Jesus' childhood," writes Joseph Razinger in the premise to the book. An exegete a person skilled in critical explanation of a text, or exegesis. "I believe a proper interpretation requires two steps," he continues. "On the one hand, it is necessary to ask what the two authors meant to say in their respective texts, in their particular historical moment...The second question asked by a correct exegete has to be: Is what was written true? Does it concern me? And if so, how?" "Jesus was not born and did not apear in public at the imprecise 'once upon a time' of myth," writes the Pope elsewhere in the book. "He belongs to a time that can be dated excatly and to a geographical setting that is indicated precisely: the universal and the concrete enter into contact with each other. Through Him, the Word of God, the creative reason of all things, has entered the world. The eternal Logos has been made man and the context of place and time is part of this".
The Italian edition of the book - penned in German - is published by Rizzoli in conjunction with the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Rizzoli is reportedly in negotiations with publishers in 32 countries for the translation of the volume into 20 languages.