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Pope Benedict XVI launches third In his trilogy of books on Jesus

The Vatican this week presented the Pope's third and final instalment of the treatise by Pope Benedict XVI on the life of Jesus. 

The book went on sale on Wednesday with an initial run of one million copies in eight different languages and has already dealt with some Christmas myths. 

The book analyses the Gospel narratives from the birth of Jesus to his presentation in the Temple aged 12. 

In his book Pope Benedict reaffirms the Christian belief in the virgin birth.  He argues that it, together with the resurrection, are the cornerstones of faith because they demonstrate God's power over matter.  However he refutes several Christian traditions including the date of Jesus' birth that he says was miscalculated by a monk.

However his most telling writings come in relation to Christmas. 

Pope Benedict says that the presence of animals in nativity scenes is little more than a myth.  He also sounds a note of caution over the popular belief that angels sang to the shepherds to proclaim Christ's birth as recalled in the carol, Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing. 

In his book, Pope Benedict says that Christ's birth was not announced with song but with speech.  He writes that when the gospels refer to the, “heavenly host,” of angels, “praising God,” and saying, “Glory to God in the highest,” they spoke the words rather than sang them. 

The Pontiff says that the misunderstanding spawned the tradition of carol singing. 

He writes, “To this day ... simple believers join in their carolling on the Holy Night, proclaiming in song the great joy that, from then until the end of time, is bestowed on all people.”

Central to the Pope's book however is the assertion that, contrary to popular belief, Jesus's birth was not presided over by oxen, asses, camels or any other beasts. 

He writes, “There is no mention of animals in the Gospels.” 

Pope Benedict insists that the inclusion of animals in the nativity scene may have been inspired by Jewish writings, including the book of Habakuk, a part of Hebrew teaching written 700 years before Christ's birth.

Speaking this week the Vatican spokesperson Fr Fredrico Lombardi said, Pope Benedict had devoted, “all of his free time to bring to fruition this project, which he wanted and loved.” 

He also revealed that in the coming months the book would be translated in 20 different languages and will be sold in 72 countries around the world.

by Sean Ryan


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