US rabbi says pope has finished second volume on Jesus

VATICAN CITY — U.S. Rabbi Jacob Neusner, a prolific author and professor at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., told the Vatican newspaper that Pope Benedict XVI has finished the second volume of his book on Jesus.

Rabbi Jacob Neusner (CNS/Bard College)

The rabbi says the pope told him so during their 20-minute meeting yesterday.

The fact that the pope would tell a U.S. rabbi that the manuscript is finished isn’t quite as odd as it would appear. In the pope’s first volume, “Jesus of Nazareth,” there were more quotes from Rabbi Neusner than from anyone but the Gospel writers and St. Paul.

In the first volume, published in 2007, Pope Benedict discussed in depth Rabbi Neusner’s 1993 book, “A Rabbi Talks With Jesus.” The pope said the rabbi’s “profound respect for the Christian faith and his faithfulness to Judaism led him to seek a dialogue with Jesus.”

Imagining himself amid the crowd gathered on a Galilean hillside when Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, Rabbi Neusner “listens, confronts and speaks with Jesus himself,” the pope wrote.

“In the end, he decides not to follow Jesus,” the pope wrote, but he takes Jesus and his words more seriously than many modern Christian scholars do.

The rabbi was in Rome to speak at a Jan. 18 event sponsored by the Italian Catholic Church to mark its annual day of Catholic-Jewish dialogue. He was able to attend Pope Benedict’s visit Sunday evening to Rome’s synagogue and then met privately with the pope yesterday morning.

He told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that their 20 minutes together “was sufficient time for a good meeting between two professors. I have always admired the scholar Joseph Ratzinger for his honesty and lucidity and I really wanted to meet and get to know the man.”

“We spoke about our books and he confided to me that he has finished writing his second volume on Jesus,” the rabbi said.

Rabbi Neusner said he was struck by the pope’s penetrating gaze and by his “kindness and humility.”

7 Responses

  1. When will Pope Benedict’s second volume on Jesus
    of Nazareth be available for sale as he said he has
    finished writing it? Or better will it be in the Book Stores this month?

  2. I so love our Pope! He is leading us by his example. By his unbiased recognition of the spiritual integrity of Rabbi Jacob Neusner and other good and honest people like him, he truly is planting seeds of world peace!

  3. We must pray for our Holy Father! May he live long and continue his beautiful work! God bless Holy Mother Church!!!

  4. It will not be out in English until sometime after Easter, maybe late May. I expect the German edition to be ready for publication around the time of the celebration of his birthday and fifth year in office.

  5. i look forward to reading his book on Jesus. thanks

  6. While we wait for the second volume of “Jesus”, reading any of Rabbi Neusner’s many, many books is time well spent indeed. I am often amazed at the ability of the church to trot out Popes who are truly great men, one after another. Rabbi Neusner is in the same class- God bless us all.

  7. I am proud of the Pope. I hope to follow after his steps. At his age and with his duty as chief Shepherd he still has time to write. I will one day write a book in his honour.

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