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'In the Beginning...' A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall


4.35  ·  Rating details ·  370 ratings  ·  37 reviews
In four superb homilies and a concluding essay, Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, provides a clear and inspiring exploration of the Genesis creation narratives.

While the stories of the world’s creation and the fall of humankind have often been subjected to reductionism of one sort or another — literalists treat the Bible as a science textbook whereas rationalists di
Paperback, 100 pages
Published November 2nd 1995 by Eerdmans (first published 1986)
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Charles Lewis
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have to reveal a prejudice: Pope Benedict XVI is to me one of the greatest popes. He did not have the kind of flash of a St. John Paul II or the the outward warmth of Pope Francis. But perhaps he did something even more important: he left a treasure of books that will be read for generations. This little book is great in its own right but I would also say it's a good starting point for anyone who has not read Benedict before. The book is a series of clear-eyed homilies on the creation story an ...more
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"In the Beginning" is an outstanding exegesis of the Creation account in Genesis. Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI, offers his intelligent, historical, non-literalist interpretation of the Hexaemeron, with the clarity characteristic of his theology. Ratzinger asks the exegete to understand Genesis as the religious book it was intended to be by its author, understood at a particular time and within a particular culture, not as a science textbook. This is a wonderful, well-written ...more
David Mosley
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent collection of Lenten homilies that form a brief catechesis on what Christians should believe about creation and the Fall. Ratzinger, before he was pope, drives home the message that it makes a fundamental difference whether we see the world as created by God or not. Perhaps the most surprising thing for me, not knowing much else by Ratzinger, was his support of the notion that evolution and the doctrine of creation can stand side-by-side. Read this book and be blessed by it.
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Incredible book on creation.
This book is a series of four homilies on the topic of Creation written by Pope Benedict XVI in the 1980s, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. We learn that the Pope does not read the events described in Genesis literally, but as images that point to a deep truth about God, the universe, human beings, and our relationship to God. These images themselves, he says, evolve as the people of God grow in their understanding of the permanent truth.

The first homily states that the universe is a purposeful
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
The first chapters help you to understand the myths behind the book of Genesis, and how they got incorporated into Sacred Scripture. I've used it for my Sacred Scripture classes with teenagers.
Emerson John Tiu Ng
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
...if you do not believe God created everything... well this book answers it... Pope Benedict XVI explains the theological aspect of creation...
Jason Hall
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: catholic
This is a wonderful collection of four talks then-Cardinal Ratzinger gave in the 1980s, along with a closing essay on the importance of a proper understanding of the doctrine of creation. As would be expected by all who are familiar with his work, our Pope-Emeritus takes seriously both the text of the Scripture and the challenges that arise when interpreting it in light of the natural sciences. And, of supreme importance, in my opinion, he insists that any interpretation we adopt has to be groun ...more
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
the first essay in this four part sequence is excellent. i so appreciate clear reasoning that incorporates "the culture at the time of writing" perspective. benedict is an excellent scholar. the other three essays were worth reading and provides food for thought but i cannot say i disagree with benedict's points so much as his dogmatic attitude. the appendix has two more essays that provide the reader with benedict's opinions on modern society. i'll give him the benefit of the doubt and take und ...more
Nov 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who want to start studying their faith and the Bible at an adult level
Recommended to Jamie by: Jimmy Akin
Amazing to think that the 4 chapters of this book were actually the Advent homilies given by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). This is hardly your average Sunday sermon - these are masterpieces in homiletics that go through the first chapters of Genesis as a new way to understand the Advent/Christmas season.

You'll want to read this very short book several times, in order to fully digest this scholar-Pope's words. (I still can't believe that this work of such philosophical d
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
These four homilies gave me a whole new respect for the current pope, so that I can comprehend why he might have been chosen from among many other highly learned and spiritual individuals to be the leader of the Church following the death of John Paul II. From page 1, his speech is deeply poetic, fluent, even lyrical. Yet he also shows a strong grasp of science, including metaphysics, and a deep understanding of the glory and sorrow of being human. Best of all, his explanation of Creation, faith ...more
Je lis donc je suis
This was a fascinating quick read that went a different direction than I might have expected. It is the printing of 4 sermons delivered by Joseph Ratzinger in the 1980's. It really could be said to be a book on a Christian worldview founded on dependence & interdependence, love, creation, and environmental stewardship juxtaposed against a modern gnostic worldview that knowledge is the ultimate redemptive power and that this power should in no way be limited even if it is destroying us.

A coup
Paul Schmitt
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal theology of Creation and the Fall by Cardinal Ratzinger. Helps to clarify how Christianity's understanding of Creation and ancient scripture was compromised by a re-hellenization in the West, (during the enlightenment) that sought reason divorced from faith, and a de-hellenization in the West (brought on by Luther & the reformers) that sought Faith divorced by reason [and ultimately led to fundamentalism]
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The word that kept creeping into my mind while reading this book was Clarity. Pope Benedict has a unique gift to bring some really complex ideas and make them accessible to the average reader with very limited theological and scriptural knowledge. I love this book; I'm not someone who regularly uses highlighters or markings but pretty much left this whole book yellow. Fascinating insight, 5 stars.
Nathan Douglas
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A four-part collection of homilies that briefly and brilliantly argue the need for a robust Christian understanding of the Creation narrative and for the principles (and end results, namely, redemption) of creation itself. Card. Ratzinger is, as usual, supremely skilled at unpacking the key images of Genesis while always pushing forward to their Christological fulfillment. This is a must for any Christian thinker.
Nov 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Slender but strong explanation of Catholic understanding of Creation. Demonstrates that the Catholic middle way between literalists and those who regard Genesis as mere fable is as Aristotle explained the doctrine of the mean to be: not halfway between one pole and the other, but rather the right way between two flawed interpretations. Written by future Pope.
Stephen Durkee
Great introduction to understanding creation and the great question of the human person. Why do we exist? Who do we exist for? The reminder that Benedict gives us is that we were created for a relationship (to know and love) our creator; God. Three stars, though it's good, it's not like some of his other books i.e. The spirit of the liturgy.
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this book, and found it interesting that the chapters were separate homilies given by Pope Benedict XVI when he was a cardinal. The chapters flow seamlessly, which I see as a testament to the way life constantly comes together neatly. My favourite quote "Give up your abstraction, and you'll give up your question."
Mindy Albiston
Jan 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: catholic
very challenging, mentally. Focuses more on the philosophic "proof" of creation than an understanding of the text of Genesis for the average lay person. Tough for me to find any advice for my daily life.
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Thoughtful in its approach and well-written. A lot to unpack here - deserves several re-reads to appreciate the fullness of the message. Although these are published homilies, I believe that further discussion of Adam and Eve is warranted.
Apr 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
An insightful look at the Catholic doctrine of Creation and the Fall. Engaging as all of Ratzinger's works are. Perhaps a little weak in the treatment of Original Sin, bit overall one is awed at Ratzinger's thought.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Excellent instruction on Genesis and the many accounts of creation in the Bible.
Joseph Sevcik
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic
Absolutely foundational to understanding so much about Theology. Incredibly helpful little book.
Jared Dees
Jul 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Short catechetical piece by Pope Benedict XVI. Nice, quick read with some good thoughts on Creation and Genesis.
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great read on the doctrine of creation. Warrants a comparison with the doctrine expressed in the Dutch Calvinist tradition.
Rizaclaire Pardillo
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
i think it's all about the beginning of the world
Joshua Duffy
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonhumans
This the second book of Benedict XVI I've now read and have thoroughly enjoyed them both. He is a solid theologian, and this book is creation theology done right.
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is a series of four homilies delivered by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI on creation and the fall. The Lenten sermons were given as part of an adult Lenten catechesis program in the Cathedral in München, the Liebefrauenkirche, when Ratzinger was still a cardinal in Germany. They express the need to always examine the relevant Scriptural texts from an appropriate Christological perspective, and specifically, from the future backwards. Good (and deep) short reading.
Friar Dismas
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good, simple look, not only at the Genesis account, but also at human nature and its relation to God and sin. It would be a good little resource for anyone preaching on the first chapters of Genesis.

This is not a "book" per se, but a collection of four homilies given as a Lenten series in 1981.
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Good answers by Benedict XVI on why creation is an important concept that should not be set aside by Christians, much less considered contrary to reason. I wish it had expanded more on the creation of man and woman, but it had good anthropological points to make, especially in discussions with atheists such as Monod, Bloch and Marx himself.
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Pope Benedict XVI (Latin: Benedictus PP. XVI; Italian: Benedetto XVI; German: Benedikt XVI.; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on 16 April 1927) was the 265th Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the head of the Catholic Church. He was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave, celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, and too ...more

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“sin is always an offense that touches others, that alters the world and damages it.” 2 likes
“People were no longer concerned with understanding what a text said or what a thing was from the aspect of its fulfillment, but from that of its beginning, its source. As a result of this isolation from the whole and of this literal-mindedness with respect to particulars, which contradicts the entire inner nature of the Bible but which was now considered to be the truly scientific approach, there arose that conflict between the natural sciences and theology which has been, up to our own day, a burden for the faith.” 0 likes
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