Thursday, June 6, 2013

Image Books: Consuming the Word

I've known I wasn't normal for a while now, but every so often I realize something new about myself that reaffirms this truth. Normal people right now are probably looking forward to the summer's latest blockbuster at the theater. I, however, am more excited over the summer book blockbuster in the Catholic world, Consuming the Word available from Image Books. How do I know it's the blockbuster of the summer? For one, it's already #1 in Amazon rankings for Catholic books. Secondly, Scott Hahn wrote it...enough said. Lastly, super-blogger Sarah Reinard and "never say sleep" Brandon Vogt have already weighed in on it. Here are my two cents on the book.

As a convert to Catholicism, Scott Hahn was my security blanket for many years. I knew I could not go wrong reading him, and felt like I could relate to him in many ways. He wrote a mixture of accessible and scholarly works, and I felt a sense of accomplishment when I was able to upgrade to some of his more scholarly works. I would not be where I am today if it weren't for him and his many wonderful works. Consuming the Word is another one of those wonderful works.

If you ask a Christian today to tell you what the New Testament is, you will hear various answers like, "The second half of the Bible," or "Twenty-seven books," or "The Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation." All of those answers would be accurate by today's standards but not by the standards of the Early Church. Dr. Hahn points out that, first and foremost, books were a luxury in that time.  The Church was around before the official canon of the New Testament was even formed. In fact, depending upon your geographical location, you might have found guidance from some works that aren't even in the canon today, like the Epistle of Barnabas or Clement's Letter to the Corinthians.

Hahn then goes on to explain how the term "New Testament" as we know it today is different in meaning from the times of the early Christians. The actual "New Testament," as the Early Church knew it, was the Eucharist. Let that sink in for a moment.  It seems so obvious now, but I would have never made that realization without this book. Using and interchanging the terms testament and covenant, Dr. Hahn points out that the Eucharist is at the center of the New Covenant. He doesn't downplay the importance of Sacred Scripture, but instead tells us how Sacred Scripture, when we read at Mass, points us toward the "heart of the Church," which is the Eucharist.

I think what I liked most about this book is how Scott Hahn emphasizes both Sacred Scripture and the Eucharist. Even though Scripture is not considered a sacrament, it does possess a sacramentality. Using the examples of Ezekiel and the Apostle John, Dr. Hahn says, "We need to 'eat' the sacred texts - consume them - make them part of us. We have to assimilate the Word as food. We have to find the bread of life in Scripture just as we find it in the Eucharist."

Hands down, this was a brilliant book worthy of 5 stars. It is scholarly in that there is more than a smattering of Greek, but it is also an easy and captivating read. I couldn't put it down, even while rocking my 2 month old son. It definitely put the Eucharist in a new light for me. I wouldn't say it changed my view of the Body and Blood, but it deepened it. So whether you are a cradle Catholic, a convert, or a revert, you will want to pick up this book to not only read but to share.

If you found this review helpful, please click the following link and hit Yes! You can also check out a video below, from June 5th, 2013 where Dr. Hahn talks about his book.