Monday, October 3, 2016

Letter and Spirit Volume 10: Christ Our Passover (Emmaus Road Publishing)

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology started the Letter and Spirit series. I still remember buying the first couple of volumes and was excited that a Biblical journal was not only available to the public, but that I would be able to own all the volumes and future volumes, unlike other journals which have been around decades and have issues long out of print. The tenth volume is entitled Christ Our Passover and has the following essays in it:

1. Getting Perspective on Recent Discussions of Paul
2. "Confirmed to the Image of His Son": Participation in Christ as Divine Sonship in Romans 8
3. "All Israel Will Be Saved": The Restoration of the Twelve Tribes in Romans 9-11
4. Israel in the Outline of Romans 9-11
5. Passover Imagery in First Corinthians 5:7
6. Anthropic Temple and Nuptial Symbolism in First Corinthians
7. There is One Body: Reconciliation and the Unity of the Church in Paul
8. Beyond Words by Means of Words: Paul's Experience and Expression of the Divine Mercy

Merely looking at the contents, one can see that this volume is focusing on the writings of St. Paul in two books of the Bible. The first essay begins by giving us timelines of Paul's life and his writings. The author of this essay, Pablo T. Gadenz, then breaks down the different perspectives on Paul, i.e., the Old Perspective (also known as "Lutheran Paul"), the Post-New Perspective, and "Catholic" Paul. We also are treated to Paul's background and his theology. This essay is the perfect introduction to this volume and sets the stage well for the upcoming essays.

The essay which I was most interested in read was "All Israel Will Be Saved." I am a former Protestant, so this is a passage I have seen referenced many times over, as Southern Baptists are very focused on the end times. As this was an essay by Dr, Scott Hahn, I knew I would have to be prepared to dive deep, and I was correct. The first point discussed in this essay is what is meant by "all Israel." There are three schools of thought - 1. Descendants of Jacob (Ethnic Israelism), 2. the Church composed of both Jews and Greeks (Ecclesial Israelism), and 3. a remnant of the descendants of Isarel who were chosen by God (Elect Israelism). Dr. Hahn then guides us through each of the three main viewpoints, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments. In addition to referencing Sacred Scripture, Dr. Hahn also draws from Second Temple Literature; the Dead Sea Scrolls; and other sources, such as 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra, and Psalms of Solomon. In the end, Dr. Hahn proposes a new way of understanding the passage where "all Israel" refers to a representative body of the Twelve Tribes that will be saved by means incoming Gentiles. By synthesizing the three views together, Dr. Hahn has aligned Paul's eschatology with the rest of New Testament eschatology.

If you are a serious student of Biblical study, then picking up this volume is a no-brainer. The content is challenging at times, but not unapproachable. The most important thing about this book is that it is orthodox.That should be a given with Catholic books, but unfortunately, it isn't. Thankfully, we have great Catholics like Dr. Hahn who continue to publish solid Catholic works for all intellectual levels of Catholics. He not only does a masterful job as editor of this series, but as a regular contributor as well. Every year I look forward to these coming out and Volume 11: "Our Beloved Brother Paul" was just released as well. Be sure to check out that one as well as the first nine in this remarkable series.

This book was provided to me for free by Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for an honest review.