When I heard Scott Hahn was releasing a new book my immediate reaction was….this one goes on the review list. Like Dr. Hahn, I am also a convert to the Catholic faith, and have always found his books informative and well written and his latest release is no exception.
Consuming the Word: The New Testament and The Eucharist in the Early Church is a book, that I feel is approachable for any level reader. In fact Scott has said he wanted everyone to be able to read and understand this volume. He did a very good job sticking to his plan, not making this a very heavy theological work that could be hard for some to understand. This book can be appreciated by anyone with an interest in the history of the Early Church through Pope Benedict XVI.
Right out of the gate Scott does a fantastic job of driving a point home. The New Testament in the Early Church was not a collection of books in the Bible. Instead it was the new covenant established by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper and in turn becoming the Eucharistic celebration which is the central part of the Holy Mass. To substantiate this he draws on writings of various Church Fathers including Clement, Ignatius, Eusebius, Cyril, and Irenaeus as well the Gospel writers themselves. This is a very important point to remember. The Early Church in its infancy did not have the collected works of what we currently call the New Testament. Only the extremely rich could afford written “books” thus letters were transmitted verbally and Tradition ruled the day. This would continue until the second century.
After establishing the original meaning of “New Testament”, Scott goes on to detail how the canon of what would become the collected works known as the New Testament was established. He also covers the lectionary and its use throughout the year of the Church calendar. Near the end of the book is a chapter on how to read the Bible “from the heart of the Church”. This was a very good chapter which for me had a great take away in the lines “Most important, we should read the Bible in its natural and supernatural habitat. We should read the Bible in the light of the liturgy.” Simply put, Scripture should be read in the thought and setting of the Mass. In this chapter Scott goes extensively into Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini which he refers to as “arguably the most important documentary on Scripture produced by the Church in many years.”
Consuming the Word is a perfect title for this book. Scott describes how you should “consume the sacred texts”, let them fill you and become a part of you. He clarifies that “Word” is so much more than the Bible you hold in your hand today. Do not forgo Tradition and the Early Church Fathers. Their voices are just as loud and clear today as they were in the first century….if you only listen….and consume them.
I received a copy of this book for the review from the publisher Image Books.