Rare is it you get to talk with one of your heroes about another hero. But I recently had that pleasure while chatting with Fr. Robert Barron about Pope Benedict XVI and his latest book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (Image Books, 2012.)
Fr. Barron hardly needs an introduction. The newly-minted Rector of Mundelein seminary is a renowned theologian, preacher, and cultural commentator, and he’s become one of the main faces of American Catholicism.
He’s probably best known for his ten-part Catholicism documentary series. Seen by millions on PBS and EWTN, the series uses theology, art, architecture, music, and history to unveil the beauty of the Catholic faith. This year, Fr. Barron plans to release a follow up series titled Catholicism: The New Evangelization.
Fr. Barron is also well-known for his new media evangelization. Through his Word on Fire ministry he’s produced over 200 video commentaries which have gathered more than five million views. His Word on Fire website draws millions of visitors itself and features an engaging blog and over ten years worth of recorded weekly homilies.
As an author, Fr. Barron has written many books including:
- Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith (Image, 2011)
- Eucharist (Orbis, 2008)
- Word On Fire: Proclaiming the Power of Christ (Crossroad, 2008)
- The Priority of Christ: Toward a Post-Liberal Catholicism (Brazos, 2007)
- Bridging the Great Divide: Musings of a Post-Liberal, Post-Conservative, Evangelical Catholic (Sheed & Ward, 2004)
- The Strangest Way: Walking the Christian Path (Orbis, 2002)
- Heaven in Stone and Glass: Experiencing the Spirituality of the Great Cathedrals (Crossroad, 2000)
- And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation (Crossroad, 1998)
- Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master (Crossroad, 1996)
In today’s video interview, we discuss a man whom we both deeply admire. Pope Benedict XVI is one of the Church’s premier biblical scholars, and over the last few years he’s applied his lifetime of expertise to a trilogy on the life of Christ. The series recently concluded with the third volume, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives covering Jesus’ birth and early life.
In our interview, Fr. Barron and I discuss several topics including the Pope’s handling of the Virgin Birth, the book’s controversial elements, and how this Jesus of Nazareth trilogy fits into the Pope’s legacy.
(Note: In case you missed it, check out my past video interview with Fr. Barron on the New Evangelization.)
Watch or download our interview below:
1:00 – Why did the Pope write his “Jesus of Nazareth” trilogy at this point in his life?
2:27 - How do the Biblical infancy narratives differ from myth or legend?
4:36 – What do you make about the fuss and controversy about the book?
5:55 – How does the Pope reconcile the two geneologies of Jesus?
7:30 - What is the meaning and importance of the Virgin Birth?
10:12 - Where does the “Jesus of Nazareth” trilogy fit into the Pope’s legacy?
Q: What do you make of the fuss surrounding the Pope’s dating of Christ’s birth?
It’s much ado about nothing, in my judgment. I learned about Dionysius Exiguus when I was in fifth grade in Catholic school. He was the monk from the sixth century who did these calculations to determine exactly when Jesus was born, and he got it a little bit off-kilter. We know now that Jesus was born in what he would call 6 or 7 B.C.
I learned that when I was in fifth grade in Catholic school. It didn’t throw me then, it didn’t throw me now. The Pope points that out and it’s commonplace today.
Check out Fr. Barron’s website, WordOnFire.org where you’ll find hundreds of blog posts, videos, and podcasted homilies. And if you haven’t seen his epic 10-part Catholicism series, don’t walk—run!—to buy the DVD set and companion book. Also, stop by the new webpage for his next film series, Catholicism: The New Evangelization, and sign up to receive free updates.
What do you think about the Pope’s Jesus of Nazareth books?