Doubleday acquires rights to Pope Benedict’s first book as pontiff

By Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) — Doubleday has acquired rights to publish the first book Pope Benedict XVI has written as the Holy Father.

Bill Barry, vice president and publisher of the company’s religious publishing division, made the announcement Dec. 12 in New York.

The book, titled “Jesus of Nazareth: From His Baptism to His Transfiguration,” is written for the general reader. It will be published next spring.

The announcement said Doubleday 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 request of Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house.

“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.”

He said Pope Benedict’s “scores of books written as the theologian (Cardinal) Joseph Ratzinger demonstrate His Holiness’ 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,” Barry added.

“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 (my) personal search for the face of the Lord.”

The now 79-year-old pope began his work on the book 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 Jesus’ baptism to transfiguration) as volume one.”

In the book, Pope Benedict paints a vivid portrait of Jesus as depicted in the Gospels and says 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.”

Doubleday is a division of Random House Inc., whose parent company is Bertelsmann A.G.

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