Pope Benedict XVI's newest volume on Christ's life debuted as a New York Times bestseller.
Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection is the second scholarly volume to his proposed trilogy on the life and message of Jesus Christ. The book debuts on the March 27 New York Times Bestseller List, the book's publicist announced Friday.
The pope published his original name, Joseph Ratzinger, as the author of the book. By using his name he wanted to be seen as a scholar and a theologian and not as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
In the book, released March 10, Pope Benedict XVI reassures readers that the Son of God is not a myth, a revolutionary, or a misunderstood prophet. Through the book, he answers some of the most repeated questions such as, why was Jesus rejected by the religious leaders? How did Jesus and how should we view his suffering and death? What is the true meaning of his resurrection? And the most controversial question, are the Jews to blamed for Jesus' death? His answer is "no," which has been officially the Catholic Church's response for nearly 50 years.
Pope Benedict XVI writes, "Only in this second volume do we encounter the decisive sayings and events of Jesus' life . . . I hope that I have been granted an insight into the figure of Our Lord that can be helpful to all readers who seek to encounter Jesus and to believe in Him."
The co-director of the Center for Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue, Matthew Levering, critiqued the book, "On the Day of Pentecost, Peter sought to explain to the assembled multitude what God had done through Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen. Peter's successor, Benedict XVI, here undertakes the same urgent task, in fruitful dialogue with the historical-critical biblical scholarship that dominates contemporary academic study of Jesus.
"Charting the path of the new evangelization, Pope Benedict XVI uncovers for us the living source of Peter's evangelizing mission: Jesus, in whom God gives hope to the world."
Critics, however, have described the book as "an extended sermon" where the synoptic timetable is impossible, such as Jesus' crucifixion could not have occurred on Passover day.
But Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, which is the publisher of the book, said the company is "delighted" that the book is "an instant New York Times bestseller."
"It means that many people across the country are discovering Pope Benedict's insights into the life of Jesus Christ," said Brumley.