Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The (New) Papal Publisher

Many of you are aware of the Pope's coming treatise on Jesus of Nazareth, the first-fruits of a project then-Cardinal Ratzinger undertook in 2003, with an eye to making it the prime work of his long-desired retirement to the Pentling house....

You know, the one with the porcelain cats everywhere.

Obviously, Something happened along the way. But the new Benedict XVI kept writing, and "given that I do not know how much time and how much strength will still be given to me" as he said in the book's already-public preface, he green-lighted the release of the first ten chapters, "from the Baptism in the Jordan to Peter's confession and the Transfiguration."

And the winner of the publisher's race is... Doubleday. Here's the announcement:
Pope Benedict XVI’s first book as the Holy Father has been acquired by Doubleday, it was announced today by Bill Barry, Vice President and Publisher of the company’s religious publishing division. Entitled JESUS OF NAZARETH: From His Baptism to His Transfiguration, the book, which will be written for the general reader, will be published in Spring 2007. Barry acquired world English, first serial, audio and exclusive Spanish language rights in North America from the Italian publisher Rizzoli, which licensed international rights to the book at the behest of Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV), the publishing arm of the Vatican.

“Having previously published works by Popes John XXIII and John Paul II,” said Barry, “we are especially honored by the Holy Father’s confidence in Doubleday in entrusting to us the English language publication of his book. His scores of books written as the theologian Joseph Ratzinger demonstrate His Holiness’s erudition, but the appeal of this work will be in the personal passion he means to share about the intimate friendship with Jesus as the central figure of Christianity. It is truly a gift for all believers and sure to be an instant spiritual classic.”

JESUS OF NAZARETH represents the culmination of Pope Benedict’s lifelong quest to defend historical Christianity in the modern world. It is, he writes in the book’s preface, the result of a “long interior journey,” and “an expression of [his] personal search for the face of the Lord.” He began work on the project in the summer of 2003 and because, as he explains, “I don’t know how much time and how much strength I will still be given, I have decided to publish the first 10 chapters [from Baptism to Transfiguration] as volume one.” In the book, Pope Benedict paints a vivid portrait of Jesus as depicted in the Gospels and asserts that “only if something extraordinary happened, if the figure and words of Jesus radically exceeded all the hopes and expectations of his age, can his crucifixion and his effectiveness be explained.”

First John Allen, then the Pope... who next?