February 2006
Book of the Month - February
Mark Merlino - Home page
Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life
(Dogmatic Theology Volume 9).
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. C.U.A. Press, 1988.
"Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life" is a very mature and thorough study of this difficult topic. Jospeh Ratzinger,
now Pope Benedict XVI, originally wrote this book in German, as the final volume in a series on Dogmatic Theology.
It is a very professional piece of scholarship and is the culmination of twenty years worth of research.

In this book, Ratzinger writes in a very clear and direct style, but as it is an academic piece, it does presuppose some
background knowledge in Christian theology. The book begins by asking the questions, what do people think and
why do they think this. The beauty of this work is that it is an understandable but incredibly thorough study of the
Judeo-Christian intellectual history for the topics of death and eternal life.

The book begins with an overview of the perspectives in contemporary biblical scholarship on the issues of death,
judgment and an afterlife. It explains in very simple terms what the Bible says on these topics and how it has been
interpreted in Christian history. How various questions associated with death were approached in the Old Testament,
the New Testament, and in the Tradition of the Church, right up to the present day.

The Final sections of the book make a close analysis of numerous questions of what was and is meant by immortality,
the resurrection of the dead, final judgment, hell, purgatory and heaven. The book finishes then with an updated
overview of contemporary approaches, written by then Cardinal Ratzinger on the occasion of the translation of this
book into English in 1987.

If you want to really understand what Christianity teaches about death and an afterlife and why this is so, this book is
for you.