November 2012: Pope Benedict XVI ponders the early life of Jesus and several myths about how the birth unfolded in his latest book. In “Jesus of Nazareth — The Infancy Narratives,” the pope states the Christian calendar is actually based on a blunder by a sixth century monk, who Benedict states was several years off in his calculation of Jesus’ birth date. According to the pope’s research, there is no evidence in the Gospels that the cattle and other animals traditionally pictured gathered around the manger were actually present. The Pope further debunks the claim that angels sang at the birth, a staple theme of Christmas carols.
The book, which is being published in multiple languages in time for Christmas 2012, is the third in a series by the pontiff. The 176-page volume, which comprises a brief foreword, four chapters and an epilogue, traces Jesus’ life up to the age of 12, when, according to the Gospels, he was presented by his parents in the Temple in Jerusalem, the Vatican stated. The previous two volumes dealt with Jesus’ adult life and his public ministry. The initial worldwide print run with the book released across 50 countries in Italian, German, Croatian, French, English, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish. In the coming months, the book will be translated into 12 more languages for publication in 72 countries in total,
Alessandro Speciale, Vatican correspondent for the Religion News Service, stated the pope was not so much aiming to debunk myths as trying to show that the Jesus depicted in the Gospels is a real historical figure, who walked on earth and talked to people like anyone else.The pope also looks at scholarly studies of the Bible, some of which have indicated for decades that the traditionally accepted birth date for Jesus is wrong. While the book points out that the Gospels do not support the presence of animals at Jesus’ birth, this detail was apparently added in later centuries. Speciale stated the pope is a traditional man and does not suggest they should be thrown out of the Nativity scene and he doesn’t want people to change their traditions.
The Vatican quotes Anthony Valle, a professor of theology, as stating the pope has been open to scientific inquiry in his own study of Jesus’ life. “The pope is not against the historical critical method at all, in fact, he uses it, he appreciates it,” Valle stated. He sees the pope as using “both faith and reason” in his efforts to bring the life of Jesus closer. Monsignor Philip Whitmore, who translated the book into English, stated the pontiff used his writing to explore “the inner meaning of the infancy narratives, showing how they pick up on Old Testament themes and develop them in new and unexpected ways.” “The pope helps us to understand the world where Jesus was born. Caesar brought peace to the Roman Empire, but this tiny child brought something much more wonderful, God’s peace, eternal life, an end to sin and death,” Whitmore added. “Anyone who’s wondering why Christmas came to be such a great celebration in the West can find the answer right here. The pope explains how the birth of Jesus changed history forever.”
Pope Benedict XVI also writes in his book “Jesus of Nazareth, that the Jewish people are not collectively responsible for the death of Jesus. Many Catholics and other Christians blamed Jews for Jesus’ death for hundreds of years, but the Catholic Church formally repudiated that assertion in the 1960s. Benedict underlines the new position; “Who has insisted on the condemnation of Jesus to death?” he asks in the book, referring to scenes in the Gospels where the people of Jerusalem demand that Roman governor Pontius Pilate have Jesus crucified. The Gospel of John says the people in question were “the Judeans,” but the pope says the term “does not refer to unlike the modern reader may tend to interpret, the people of Israel as such, and it doesn’t even have a ‘racist’ connotation.” Far from meaning all Jewish people, Benedict writes, “the circle of prosecutors pursuing the death of Jesus” is the “aristocracy of the Temple,” or the priesthood. “Even that is not without exception,” he adds in the book.
April 5, 2011: Historians are attempting to determine whether a portrait found buried within a cave in a remote village in Jordan is the first-ever discovered portrait of Jesus. According to a report in Britain’s The Daily Mail, the portrait was found on a lead booklet, slightly smaller than a credit card. The booklet has been buried for 2,000 years and the features are barely distinct as that of a human face. It was part of a hoard of 70 books found on the site, each with between five and 15 cast lead pages bound by lead rings.
The director of Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, Ziad al-Saad, believes the booklets were made by Jesus’ followers shortly after his death. “They will really match, and perhaps be more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls,” claims al-Saad. “The initial information is very encouraging and it seems that we are looking at a very important and significant discovery, maybe the most important discovery in the history of archaeology.”
Historians believe the book collection was made by followers of Jesus in the few decades immediately after his death. The most convincing evidence that the books are Christian is that one plate appears to show a map of Jerusalem with crosses outside the city walls. The speculation is that the picture, which shows a man wearing a crown of thorns, was created in Jesus’ lifetime by those who knew him. If true, it would be the first ever portrait of Jesus.
The discoveries were sometime between 2005 and 2007, after a flash flood exposed two nooks inside the cave, containing the booklets, metal plates and scrolls. According to the report, the booklets are currently in the hands of a Bedouin named Hassan Saida who lives in the village of Shibli-Umm Al-Ghanam, a Bedouin village in northern Israel. He has refused to sell them, claiming the books have been in his family since they were found by his great-grandfather. Two samples, however, have been sent to England and Switzerland for testing.
Some claims have been made that Saida’s Bedouin business partner bought the books from a villager in Jordan five years ago, and took them to Saida in Israel. The Jordanian government stated that it would make efforts at every level to return the artifacts to Jordan.
Mar/02/11: Pope Benedict XVI announced the Jewish people are not collectively responsible for the death of Jesus, who Catholics worship as divine. Pope Benedict XVI underlines the new position in his book “Jesus of Nazareth.” Who has insisted on the condemnation of Jesus to death?” he asks in the book.
During the times of Jesus the Roman empire occupied the territories known to them as Palestina and previous known as the Holy Land, inclusive of Israel and Judea. “The Gospel of John says the people in question were “the Judeans,” but the pope states the term “does not refer to, unlike the modern reader may tend to interpret – the people of Israel as such, and it doesn’t even have a ‘racist’ connotation.” Judeans were a multicultural Palestinian society of Arabs, Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Samarians, Euopran mercenaries, Assyrians, Bedouin nomads and Jews
Therefore, with reference to scenes in the Gospels and aforementioned; the people of Jerusalem, demand that Roman governor Pontius Pilate have Jesus crucified. Keep in mind that the Judeans other than the Jews believed in many gods of various deities, which included Manthra, Jupiter and Zeus. Palestinians from the Roman and Greek cultures often referred to Ju-Zeus as Jesus.
The Pope also countered accusations made by previous Catholic leaders, who claimed Jews living in the Second Temple times had collaborated with Roman authorities to kill Jesus. Using biblical sources to support his point, the Pope stated there is no Scriptural basis for blaming the Jews in any way.
Far from meaning all Jewish people, Benedict writes, “the circle of prosecutors pursuing the death of Jesus” is the “aristocracy of the Temple,” or the priesthood. However, the aristocracy of the Second Temple,” or the Chief priesthood were foreigners or converts, appointed by the Roman Governor and non of them where from the lineage of Aaron or Kohanim of Judaism. It is a fact that non of these Chief priests survived after Yom Kippur.
Many Catholics and other Christians blamed Jews for Jesus’ death for hundreds of years, but the Catholic Church formally repudiated that assertion in the 1960s. Catholic leaders’ blame of Jews for Jesus’ death was a major factor in persecution of Jews in Europe for centuries.
Benedict has had a difficult relationship with Jews during his six-year papacy.He infuriated many by welcoming back into the church a rebel bishop who is on record as saying that Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler did not have a systematic plan to murder Europe’s Jews. The rebel bishop also minimized the role of the Auschwitz death camp in the Holocaust. Benedict later ordered the bishop, Richard Williamson, to recant his views, saying the Vatican was not aware of them when it decided to lift his excommunication.
Benedict also put his predecessor, Pius XII, on the path to sainthood, further antagonizing many Jews, who believe the World War II-era pope did little to save Jews from Hitler. But Benedict also last year became the first pope to visit Rome’s main synagogue since 1986, trying to smooth feathers on an annual “Day of Dialogue” with the Jewish community.
The Jewish community “believes that Benedict’s desire to continue dialogue is sincere,” stated Lisa Palmieri-Billig, the American Jewish Committee’s liaison to the Holy See, just before the January 2010 meeting. “They believe the dialogue and the relationship are very important.”