Bloomsbury will publish the final volume of Pope Benedict’s trilogy on the life of Christ, it was announced this week.
Jesus of Nazareth – The Infancy Narratives will be available in bookshops on December 4 and will cost £12.99.
In the book, Benedict XVI explores the experience of hope found in the birth of Jesus and the affirmation of surrender and service embodied in Joseph and Mary, according to publishers.
Early press reports have focused on the Pope debunking the myth that animals were present at Jesus’s birth. He points out that “in the gospels there is no mention of animals”, and that they were probably a Hebrew invention of the seventh century BC, outlined in the Old Testament Book of Habakkuk.
The Pope added that the tradition was unlikely to change. “No nativity scene will give up its ox and donkey,” he said.
Pope Benedict wrote in his foreword: “I can at last consign to the reader the long promised little book on the narratives of Jesus’s childhood… here I have sought to interpret, in dialogue with exegetes of the past and of the present, what Matthew and Luke recount at the beginning of their Gospels about the infancy of Jesus.”
He adds: “I hope that this little book, notwithstanding its limits, might help many people in their path toward and with Christ.”