Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Letter and Spirit Volume 11: Our Beloved Brother Paul

Letter and Spirit is an outstanding yearly journal of Catholic Biblical Theology. It is published by St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and Emmaus Road Publishing. 2016 gave us Volume 11, titled Our Beloved Brother Paul. The book is just over 200 pages long and is divided into nine articles written by big names, such as Matthew Levering, Matthew Ramage, Brant Pitre, and of course Scott Hahn. The titles of the articles are as follows:

1. Partakers of Adoption: Irenaeus and His Use of Paul
2. Origen, Augustine, and "Works of Law"
3. Cyril of Alexandria's Reception of the Apostle Paul
4. Aquinas's Reception of Paul: Reading the Testaments Together
5. Aquinas's Reading of Romans: The Multiple Literal Sense and Contemporary Perspectives on Paul
6. The Old and New Law in Nicholas of Lyra's Pauline Commentaries
7. St. Paul in Matthias Scheeben: The Plenary Significance of the Incarnation
8. The Reception of St. Paul in the Works of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI
9. The Reception of Paul in the New Lectionary

Though each of the articles provided a great proved to be fruitful in their reading, I particularly enjoyed the last two articles. In article eight, Matthew Ramage begins by talking about the Pauline Year in 2008. In the opening homily by Pope Benedict XVI, he talks about how Paul is more than just a saint of the past, but he is also a teacher for us in the present day. The article then goes on to discuss key points in Paul's theology, such as justification by faith, faith or charity alone, authentic freedom in Christ, and the Mystical Body of Christ. In article nine, Brant Pitre shows how Vatican II completely reshaped the Lectionary and included many more of Paul's writings. This article is chock full of tables. The two most telling ones are the ones that show the writings of Paul in the Post-Tridentine Lectionary and the three year Ordinary Time cycle of the new Lectionary. Pitre also goes on to show how the readings flow from day to day and Sunday to Sunday. It is not a random sampling of Paul's writings, but systematic. Lastly, they serve a vital part in the seasons of the Church, particularly Advent and Lent.

The Letter and Spirit Journal series is one that I enjoy receiving and reading every year. It is one of the few books that I don't skim and rush through, because frankly I can't. The articles are a nice blend of being challenging but approachable. You walk away with a deeper understanding of your faith, not just at an academic level, but at a spiritual level too. I look forward to the next volume already, and cannot wait for it to be published it so that I may chew on the wisdom and digest what I can. This is a series I recommend for those Catholics serious about their faith and wanting to take it to a deeper, richer level.

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