As almost anyone connected in the publishing industry will tell you, a lot of books are produced every year. No one agrees precisely on numbers, but they don’t argue about the fact that it’s scads. Scads and scads of books. It makes it difficult, when starting out, for a writer to get their head above the pack. Ask anyone: it’s a competitive business.

Or, rather, ask almost anyone. For Pope Benedict XVI, the road to bestseller status seems to have come with the robes. His book, Jesus of Nazareth, was a huge seller in Europe before it ever rolled out of Rizolli’s warehouses.

According to the Zenit News Agency, on Jesus of Nazareth’s European publication date — April 16th, also the Pontiff’s 80th birthday — the book sold 50,000 copies in Italy. Now, granted, the Pope is bound to have an especially big following in that part of the world, but Rizzoli has brought the first printing to 420,000 copies.

And don’t let the snappy title fool you: Jesus of Nazareth is no Da Vinci Code-style thrillerish romp. According to the AP:

He criticizes lifestyles of the wealthy, citing “victims of drugs, of human trafficking, of sexual tourism, people destroyed on the inside, who are empty despite the abundance of their material goods.”

Rich countries continue to do harm to the Third World by giving aid that is purely technical in nature, he says. “This aid has set apart religious, moral and social structures that existed and introduced their technical mentality in the void,” he writes.

In another chapter, however, Benedict sharply criticizes Marxism, saying it excluded God from life.

English language editions of Jesus of Nazareth will be available from Doubleday in North America and Bloomsbury in the UK, both on May 15th.

News Reporter

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