Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Catholic Company Book Review: Spirit and Life

It was time to choose another book to review for The Catholic Company. Checking out the many selections, I came across Dr. Hahn’s book “Spirit & Life, Essays on Interpreting the Bible in Ordinary Time.” This prolific writer of top selling books has inspired me, gave me a deeper understanding of the Catholic Church through his conversion story in, ‘Rome Sweet Home’ removed my fear of reading Revelation in his book, “The Lamb’s Supper” and made me laugh at times watching his Salvation History videos made many years ago.

The thing about Dr. Scott Hahn, is that he is so darn smart! He has studied scripture for his entire adult life, from college as an aspiring future preacher through his conversion to the Catholic Church during his Presbyterian ministry to his present work as both professorship of Scripture and theology at Franciscan U. and founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology ( He knows the Bible forwards, backwards and in many interpretations, I’m sure. Dr. Hahn’s presence in my life through his works, I don’t even want to think of where I would be if a dear friend loaned me his videos, revealed to me the true beauty of the Catholic Church, her truth, love, and perfect stance in our world.

Well, onto the book review, “Spirit & Life…” is a short paperback of 156 pages, divided into 2 parts, Spirit and Life. In Spirit, (Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written” – Dei Verbum, no. 12.) Dr. Hahn, discusses the Word as a Symphony, “Beethoven’s Fifth and ninth will shake us to our souls if we let them”, but Word of God, His Church will “shake you like no symphony ever has.” Through the Word, the signs and symbols of our faith, the Eucharist the Catholic Church is a symphony of beauty and truth bring us all closer to our God and His love and care.

Dr. Hahn discusses the “Hermeneutic of Faith” (I had to look up hermeneutic: an interpretation of text or religion.) to understand where this chapter was going. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Now Benedict XVI) was quoted all over this chapter with Dei Verbum. About the resurrection, he quotes the pope, the resurrection is “God’s defense of Jesus against the official interpretation of the Old Testament as given by the competent Jewish authorities.” In the Scripture’s Liturgical Sense, Dr. Hahn shows how study of the canon and covenant has illuminated both the cultic content and context of the Bible, showing the relationship clearer of the formal and material unity of Scripture and liturgy, the later existing for liturgy and in large part is about liturgy.

The second part, Life is rich with Dr. Hahn’s discussion on the Cathedral, the etiology of the bishop/priest roles from the original father of the family domestic to the father of the church. He talks about Matthew, the Gospel of fulfillment, the signs of the times, A Biblical Approach to “Pentecostal” Phenomena, Christ in Majesty, Scary Jesus and “My Words are Spirit and Life”: Teachings from the Scriptural and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.

Finally, Dr. Hahn's interpretation of the Bible in Ordinary time is a treasure of his knowledge. He has traveled to so many places, seen so many beautiful things that are Catholic, his love of the Catholic Church is abundant. Recently, my daughter and I traveled with our parish to Washington, DC for the annual January March for Life. We celebrated Mass with our bishops and thousands of fellow Catholics in the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I was simply mesmerized by the mosaic behind the Altar in the upper Church, "Christ in Majesty". Dr. Hahn's take on this amazing mosaic is beautiful.

It was a pleasure reading these essays, I am never disappointed with Dr. Hahn's work.

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