| VATICAN CITY
VATICAN CITY Nov 20 Pope Benedict published the
last part of his trilogy on the life of Jesus on Tuesday,
delivering an early childhood narrative which strongly reaffirms
the doctrine of the virgin birth as an "unequivocal" truth of
The book, 137 pages in its English version, is titled "The
Infancy Narratives - Jesus of Nazareth" and is being published
simultaneously around the world in 21 languages. It is bound to
be another international bestseller like the previous volumes.
Divided into a forward, four chapters and an epilogue, it
traces and analyses the gospel narratives from the birth of
Jesus to his presentation in the temple at the age of 12.
The previous two volumes dealt with the adult life of Jesus
and his public ministry.
One section of the book is called "Virgin Birth - Myth or
The Church teaches that Jesus was the son of God and was not
conceived through sexual intercourse but by the power of the
Holy Spirit, one part of the divine trinity.
In simple language that is at once academic but still easily
accessible to a non-specialist readership, Benedict says the
story of the virgin birth is not just a reworking of earlier
Greek or Egyptian legends and archetypal concepts but something
totally new in history.
"It is God's creative word alone that brings about something
new. Jesus, born of Mary is fully man and fully God, without
confusion and without separation..." he writes.
"The accounts of Matthew and Luke are not myths taken a
stage further. They are firmly rooted, in terms of their basic
conception, in the biblical tradition of God the Creator and
Redeemer," he writes.
"Is what we profess in the Creed (a Christian prayer that
includes belief in the virgin birth) true? he asks. He answers:
"The answer is an unequivocal yes".
Catholics should see belief in the virgin birth and the
resurrection of Jesus from the dead as "cornerstones of faith"
because they are undeniable signs of God's creative power.
"If God does not also have power over matter, then he simply
is not God," Benedict writes. "But he does have this power, and
through the conception and resurrection of Jesus Christ he has
ushered in a new creation."
In other sections of the book Benedict discusses the
genealogy of Jesus, the figure of St Joseph, the story of the
wise men who the Bible says paid tribute to the infant Jesus in
the manger in Bethlehem.
In his two previous volumes on the life of Jesus, Benedict
condemned violence committed in God's name and personally
exonerated Jews of responsibility for the death of Jesus.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella, editing by Paul Casciato)