Religion News: Pope’s latest book, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’

Staff reports

The death of Jesus of Nazareth remains controversial, even after almost 2,000 years. Pope Benedict XVI revisits the debate in his new book, “Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week,” the second volume of his work on the figure of Jesus.

Some interpreters have identified the Jewish people as a whole as responsible for Jesus' death — a position often used to justify the persecution of Jews. Some modern scholars argue that the Roman authorities are to blame. Others claim that a group within the Jewish Temple establishment worked with the Roman authority to execute Jesus for insurrection, which is what the Gospel writers maintain.

Benedict XVI directly confronts the arguments and the evidence.

"Many readers will find this section of the book particularly interesting as the Pope reviews the historical positions taken about this," said Fr. Joseph Fessio, founder and publisher of Ignatius Press. "He discusses some very controversial claims that have been made and draws on some contemporary scholarly resources to reach a conclusion that I am certain will generate a lot of discussion."

In the book, which goes on sale March 10, the Pope tackles many of history's most volatile questions about the final week of Jesus' earthly life:

  • Was Jesus a political revolutionary?
  • What did Jesus teach about the end of the world?
  • How did Jesus interpret his death?
  • What does the evidence tell us about Jesus' ultimate fate?
  • Did the early Christians believe Jesus would return immediately?

-- Ignatius Press

Week in Religion

- March 2, 1979, over 1,100 Christian organizations combined to form the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability to make themselves accountable for the funds that religious groups raise and spend.

- March 3, 1959, the Unitarian Church and the Universalist Church merged into a single denomination.

- March 4, 1738, Moravian missionary Peter Bohler, 26, advised future founder of Methodism, John Wesley, 34, to “preach faith until you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.”

-- William D. Bake, Almanac of the Christian Church

Survey Says

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Faith found in a 2008 nationally representative survey that 5 percent of Egyptians are Christian, though many media reports cite 10 percent. However, there is a lack of religion data in Egypt’s 2006 census, and social hostilities towards those who are not Muslim may deter some from revealing their true religion.

Good Book?

“The Final Divine Religion Islam” by Murat Kaya

The book was prepared for those newly acquainted with Islam; it serves as a handbook to learn Islam from the most authentic sources, in the quickest way. For its concise recap of the basics of Islam, the work is ideal for those seeking introductory information on the religion.

-- Erkam Publications

Quote of the week

“Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters.” – Isaac Bashevis, Nobel Prize winner in literature

The Word

Canon law: A term used primarily within the Roman Catholic Church to refer to a collection of church laws.


Religion Around the World

Religious makeup of South Korea

Christian: 26.3 percent

Buddhist: 23.2 percent

Other or unknown: 1.3 percent

None: 49.3 percent

- CIA Factbook

GateHouse News Service