Religion Booknotes

Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church
Pope Benedict XVI
Ignatius Press, $14.95, 163 pp.

While Pope Benedict was in the United States this past April, he spoke to Catholic educators in Washington, D.C. As I listened to the speech, it became clear that I would also need to read it. There was simply too much there for a listener to take in. At the time I was reading Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church, a collection of catecheses the pope gave at the Vatican during his regular audiences in late 2006 and early 2007. Those talks were much shorter, more accessible, but still rich enough to deserve a close reading. Ignatius Press deserves credit for making them available in such inexpensive and convenient little volumes. 

As the title indicates, the topics of these audiences range from short instructions on the twelve apostles to reflections on figures of the early church, which are organized around the common theme of St. Paul and his circle. The pope lets the Bible speak. He describes where each apostle appears in the gospel narrative, and what these appearances say to us today. Benedict fully understands the textual problems and ambiguities but does not tarry over them; as he says more than once, that is the task of the exegetes. In places he draws on...

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About the Author

Lawrence Cunningham is John O'Brien professor of Theology (Emeritus) at the University of Notre Dame.