About Volume I
Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration is the first book Pope Benedict XVI wrote after his election as the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
Doubleday published the hardcover version of the book in 2007. Ignatius Press published the paperback edition, which includes an index, in 2008.
In the book's introduction, Benedict states explicitly that the treatise is in "no way an exercise of the magisterium," but rather an "expression of his personal search for the face of the Lord." Throughout 10 chapters, Benedict XVI covers the bulk of Jesus' public ministry, encompassing subjects and events that include Christ's baptism at the hands of John the Baptist; the Sermon on the Mount; the meaning of the parables; the Calling of the Twelve; the Confession of Peter; and the Transfiguration.
Benedict seeks to salvage the person of Jesus from recent "popular" depictions and to restore Jesus' true identity as discovered in the Gospels. Through his brilliance as a theologian and his personal conviction as a believer, the Pope shares a rich, compelling, flesh-and-blood portrait of Jesus during the time of his ministry and invites readers to encounter, face-to-face, the central figure of the Christian faith.
In doing this, Benedict explores the meaning of key moments in the Gospels (the temptations of Jesus, the Transfiguration, and the Sermon on the Mount) and points to passages in which Jesus outlines Pauline theology. He underscores Jesus' being rooted in the Old Testament — showing, for example, that the Beatitudes participate in a long tradition of blessings, as exemplified in Psalms and Jeremiah.
Benedict XVI draws on historical-critical scholarship of the New Testament, but cautions readers that the usefulness of strictly historical readings of Scripture is limited. He asserts that one also must read Scripture theologically and view each passage of the Bible as part of a larger canonical whole.
Among those offering insightful reviews of Jesus of Nazareth I is noted author and theologian George Weigel, who said of the pope and the book: "Joseph Ratzinger was a world-class theologian long before he became the Roman Curia's official defender of Catholic doctrine, and then the pope. In Jesus of Nazareth, Ratzinger reveals the core of his personality as he invites his readers into the classroom of a master teacher — one who has absorbed the best that modern biblical scholarship has to offer and has yet emerged from that encounter with his faith intact and enriched."