Monday 1 May 2023

Saint Paul - Pope Benedict XVI

Saint Paul 
Pope Benedict XVI
ISBN 9781586173678
eISBN 9781681494173

Over the last few years I have read a number of books by and about Pope Benedict XVI. Of the popes in my lifetime I find his writings of immense spiritual benefit. I would state that I underappreciated him until his resignation. And since then I have read much. And with each piece I read I appreciate his wisdom, faith, and stand against modernism. This volume was of special interest to me. I hold a Religious Studies Degree with a focus on Roman Catholic Thought. The first course I did when I returned to University was Paul’s Life and Letters, taught by Dr. Peter Frick, the course was transformative for me spiritually and academically. I enjoyed the course so much that I did a fourth year directed readings in Pauline Studies as one of my final courses to graduate, again with Dr. Frick. I try and read a book on Pauline Theology and thought almost every year. Some of the academic works are out of my price point. This was an excellent read. There are two editions of this work and they are nearly identical. In Europe this volume was published by the Catholic Truth Society called Paul of Tarsus. In North America Ignatius Press published this version. I had tracked down the CTS version and was reading it when I picked up this eBook from Ignatius. Thus I read about half the book in each edition.

The description of the edition of the book is:

“In this book, Pope Benedict XVI, a profound spiritual leader in his own right and a first-rate theologian and Bible commentator, explores the legacy of Paul. Pope Benedict follows the course of the Apostle’s life, including his missionary journeys and his relationship with the other apostles of Jesus such as St. Peter and St. James, and Paul’s martyrdom in Rome. Benedict also examines such questions as: Did Paul know Jesus during his earthly life and how much of Jesus’ teaching and ministry did he know of? Did Paul distort the teachings of Jesus? What role did Jesus’ death and resurrection play in Paul’s teaching? What are we to make of Paul’s teaching about the end of the world? What does Paul’s teaching say about the differences between Catholic and Protestant Christians over salvation and the roles of faith and works in the Christian life? How have modern Catholic and Protestant scholars come together in their understanding of Paul? What does Paul have to teach us today about living a spiritual life?

These and other important issues are addressed in this masterful, inspirational, and highly-readable presentation of St. Paul and his writings by one of today’s great spiritual teachers, Pope Benedict XVI.”

The volume is compiled from a collection of General Audiences given between July 2, 2008 and February 4, 2009, during the Jubilee year of Saint Paul which ran from June 28, 2008 to June 29th, 2009. The CTS has several booklets from the Year of Saint Paul. I could have used this volume and some of the ones from that Year for that final I did a year after the fact. 

And the chapters are:

1. Religious and Cultural Environment
2. Life of Saint Paul before and after Damascus
3. Saint Paul’s “Conversion”
4. Saint Paul’s Concept of Apostolate
5. Paul, the Twelve and the Pre-Pauline Church
6. The “Council” of Jerusalem and the Incident in Antioch
7. The Relationship with the Historical Jesus
8. Paul’s Ecclesiological Dimension
9. The Importance of Christology: Pre-existence and Incarnation
10. The Importance of Christology: The Theology of the Cross
11. The Importance of Christology: The Decisiveness of the Resurrection
12. Eschatology: The Expectation of the Parousia
13. The Doctrine of Justification: From Works to Faith
14. The Doctrine of Justification: The Apostle’s Teaching on Faith and Works
15. The Apostle’s Teaching on the Relation between Adam and Christ
16. The Theology of the Sacraments
17. Spiritual Worship
18. Letters to the Colossians and Ephesians
19. Pastoral Epistles: Letters to Timothy and Titus
20. Saint Paul’s Life and Legacy

Each chapter is from a specific General Audience. Because this is a collection for talks given there is no introduction or conclusion. I really enjoyed reading this volume. I read it just a few months after the passing of Pope Benedict XVI. And reading books by him at this time is helping me process my feelings on his passing. I once heard a theologian say that without Saint Paul there would be no Christianity. And I do not doubt that statement. This book gives a rich and deep look into the man, his life and his message. 

I have a dual form of dyslexia and really prefer eBooks, because I can change the font, page and font colour to make reading easier. My progress once I switched to the Ignatius eBook edition was much faster. This is an excellent read, one any Catholic, any Christian would benefit from reading. It is another excellent volume from Pope Benedict XVI, and I can easily recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

CTS Year of St Paul Series 2008-2009:
Acts of the Apostles - Henry Wansbrough OSB (Introduction) - CTS Scriptures
Letters of Paul - Henry Wansbrough OSB (Introduction) - CTS Scriptures
Rome A Pilgrim's Companion - David Baldwin
St Paul the Apostle - Fr Jerome Murphy-O'Connor OP,
The Gospel of Paul - Ronald Knox
The Holy Land A Pilgrim's Companion - David Baldwin
Thoughts on St Paul - Pope Benedict XVI

Books by Benedict XVI:

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