Jesus and Divorce, A contemporary perspective

In 2002, Wipf and Stock Publishers published an excellent scholarly work by two highly respected evangelical authors, Gordon J. Wenham and William E. Heth. They tackle one of the more perplexing problems in New Testament exegesis (critical interpretation or study), that of Jesus’ uncompromising teaching on divorce and remarriage.

This topic is particularly relevant in the American Roman Catholic community because of the disproportionate number of annulments granted, an aberration addressed by the last several pontiffs. This has been chronicled in several books, both from a sympathetic and critical perspective.

First, there is little doubt among scholars as to the historical teaching of Jesus on divorce and remarriage: he absolutely prohibited it. The so-called exception clause to this prohibition in Matthew’s Gospel is generally presumed by Catholic scholars to refer to marriage within forbidden degrees of kinship according to Leviticus. It is typically considered to originate from Matthew or his community in response to a pastoral issue. Because of its highly Jewish flavor, Matthew’s Gospel is particularly sensitive to this issue.

Paul’s teachings, including the so-called Pauline Privilege accessed by Catholic canon law in annulment proceedings, though not specifically discussed under those terms, are also addressed.

Jesus and Divorce addresses this and other New Testament teachings on divorce in an even-handed manner that would be of particular interest to Roman Catholics. It offers an extensive critique and affirmation of Fr. Raymond F. Collins highly praised work Divorce and the New Testament, available from The Liturgical Press.

A Roman Catholic reader unfamiliar with scholarly exegesis would be overwhelmed by the book. However an informed reader of any Christian denomination would find it packed with useful information and helpful insights.

Gordon Wenham is the author of an outstanding commentary on Genesis as well.  He has written another book on the subject of marriage and divorce in the New Testament, and is worth checking out. I find him accessible, thorough, balanced, and orthodox, an uncommon combination today.

I highly recommend Jesus and Divorce to serious readers interested in exploring this problematic question.  The following is contact information from the publisher:

Wipf and Stock Publishers 199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3 Eugene, OR 97401-2960

Tel: (541) 344-1528 Fax: (541) 344-1506

Ordering Inquiries: Orders@wipfandstock.com

I am confident you will find this book challenging and enlightening. It is particularly refreshing in contrast to permissive views on the subject that have infiltrated the Christian churches both at the magisterial and pastoral level. The authors take seriously the words of Jesus and their practical import for 21st century readers. Would that more scholars articulate this perspective with such clarity and acuity.

New book on Pope Francis

Crossroad Publishing has recently published an attractive coffee table picture book on Pope Francis with excellent essays on his background and perspective, as well as that of his predecessor. The pictures are very well done, and the writing quite accessible. The book is entitled: A Call to Serve: Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. If you slip and refer to him as St. Francis, don’t worry, you have plenty of company. With a name, personality, and background like that, it comes with the territory.

I found the writing particularly engaging. It speaks to both novice and the well read. It is broken down into manageable and user-friendly subtopics surrounded by colorful photos.

For a limited time, Crossroad is offering this at an outstanding price of $7 per copy, and $6 per copy for orders of 40 or more. This offer expires on June 14.  Here is ordering information provided by the publisher.

To order online – www.popefrancisbook.com

For bulk orders, email sales@crossroadpublishing.com

YouTube Video Clip – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13OoeYvaCfM

If you mention this blog as a source for your interest, you unfortunately will not receive an additional discount, but you will likely get some sympathy.  Check it out and enjoy.

Good Reading on Vatican II

The Church is currently undergoing an ongoing reflection on Vatican Council II.  Pope Benedict emphasizes its continuity with Tradition against those who would portray it as something radically new and different.

One press that has traditionally paid considerable attention to the Vatican II documents and their implementation has been Liturgical Press. Their website is litpress.org.

i recently had the opportunity to review three new titles on the subject by Liturgical Press.

Here are my reactions.

My favorite was “Keys to the Council: Unlocking the Teaching of Vatican II” by Richard R. Gaillardetz and Catherine E. Clifford. I preferred this because it was crisp, accessible, well-founded, and non-ideological. A wide audience could benefit from this book, from beginner to scholar. It was well written too, which is not always the case with theological works. I didn’t sense a conservative or progressive bent. Simply, a concise and practical analysis of the documents, with appropriate background. It was interesting reading as well.

Much more hard-going in terms of reading was ecclesiologist Yves Congar’s True and False Reform in the Church. Initially published in 1950, it is interesting to read today. A theological timepiece you might call it. Not for the feint of heart, though. However, it makes many good points and is rewarding for those who stick with it. A good book by a renowned author.

Finally, Liturgical Press published Yves Congar’s “My Journal of the Council.” In a word, fascinating. Though many mundane details are offered, as to be expected in a journal, it affords us an outstanding perspective from a peritii (expert consultant) who offers commentary on everything from papal activities to his adventures in Rome.  This is between the aforementioned titles in terms of reading difficulty.

Since most who attended the council are now deceased, the last attending bishop dying not long ago,  this is an invaluable perspective from an objective and learned source. It is also available as an ebook. I found it very enjoyable, and due to its size, I simply skipped over parts I was not interested in. Congar was a great theologian who also received flak for his views prior to Vatican II, so he was actively in the theological mix of the time. Once you pick it up, I think you’ll follow my tendency of skipping around to entries of interest. Liturgical Press did us a great service in publishing this literary relic.

If you have any questions or comments, please send them along. You can order the books  directly from Liturgical Press at litpress.org. Their phone number is 1-800-858-5450.

Thank you for your interest.

Martini Mix

Martini Mix

Karl A. Schultz

A special concoction has been prepared for those seeking a slightly more advanced and in depth selection of spiritual reading titles. I’ll preface it with a basis for its conception.

Mediocrity has become a plague in American culture and church. People allow themselves to become swept up in mass society mentality and conformism, anesthetized by an unhealthy celebrity culture and an economy where the haves increasingly cast aside the have-nots. Talent, production, potential, and merit have been trumped by image, convenience, comfort, and connections. Consequently, a levelling effect occurs in which life is brought down to the lowest common denominator.

Even within the Church mediocrity and worse is rationalized and even excused. If necessary, biblical and traditional values are eclipsed out of a misguided attempt at accommodation. For example, haven’t most of the biblical passages regarding gender been neutered and robbed of their vitality and potency. Don’t we allow feminist-sympathetic scholars and teachers to relegate them to historical curiosities reflective of a repulsively patriarchal culture? As if our culture is superior!!!

Now that we can’t turn to Scripture in matters of gender identification and formation, where do we turn? Popular culture? Catholic popularizers and ideologues, who often unconsciously bring in remnants of their former traditions and lifestyles?
Intellectual life has been mostly cast aside, or relegated to academics. The quest for principle and progress has been eclipsed by practicality and comfort.

In the realm of spirituality, this consists of the rise of popularizers, in many cases an ideologically-based network of individuals with similar backgrounds, pedigrees, or perspectives who exclusively develop a largely closed network of self-proclaimed authorities on Catholic and biblical spirituality. As in the culture, popularity and image tends to obscure substance and reality.

One of the consequences in the American church has been the marginalization of two supreme resources, the works of Cardinal Martini and the publications of the Catholic Biblical Federation. Put simply, their resources on biblical spiritualty and lectio divina are unsurpassed in breadth and depth. Through collaboration with the Catholic Biblical Federation (headquartered in Germany), I have acquired permission to share over twenty of their finest articles on lectio divina from their quarterly journal Dei Verbum. This international assortment includes several by Cardinal Martini, and papers by Cardinal Kasper and other noted scholars and leaders. This is a wonderful resource for serious-minded individuals, DREs, bible study leaders, and parishes.

The articles are accessible but not dumbed down, a refreshing change from what has become the norm at the grass roots level within the Church. The Martini mix includes the complete set, which ways more than a pound!

The Martini mix includes two copies of my book “Journaling with Moses and Job”, which is based on Martini’s classic out of print book “Through Moses to Jesus.” It includes numerous extensive excerpts from it. Also included are several other Martini titles.

Why Martini?

He is the most prominent promoter of lectio divina in the post-Vatican II church. He has over 40 titles published on the subject, and they have been translated into various languages.

Outside of the pope, he has the most impressive resume in the Church:

1) A doctorate in theology from the Gregorian and in Biblical studies from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, where taught for ten years.
2) Former rector of the Gregorian and Pontifical Biblical Institute.
3) Former member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the pope’s advisory board on biblical matters.
4) A world class text critic (expert in the biblical languages and manuscripts) and former member of the American Bible Society’s committee for the establishment of the Greek New Testament.
5) Emeritus Cardinal of Milan, the world’s largest Catholic diocese.
6) Former president of the European conference of bishops.
7) A contender at the 2005 papal conclave, despite advanced age and having Parkinson’s disease.

What is most amazing about Martini is not his accomplishments, but his message and modality. He is able to integrate and communicate in an accessible manner his intellectual acumen and pastoral experience and understanding of the human sciences. It is rare for a renowned scholar to communicate accessibly, insightfully, and pastorally. Most simply can’t come down to earth, or if they do, they overcompensate and teeter towards “dumbed-down’s ville.”

Of his many literary, formational, and evangelical merits, four stand out for me:

1) He humanizes the Bible and its character, circumstances, and challenges, thereby enabling me to personalize it and recognize its timeless and personal applications.

2) He demythologizes the Bible, that is, he makes it a living, breathing document founded in timeless and existential values. He helps you read between the lines and recognize the continuity between ancient and modern times, and the unchanging qualities of the human nature and condition. Within biblical studies the term demythologize has been associated with the great twentieth century German exegete Rudolf Bultmann, but that is not the sense in which I use the word.

3) By reading his books, through a process of what I call spiritual osmosis, I gradually assimilate his methods, which are often spelled out, and at other times implicit in his writings. Thus I learn how to interpret and apply the Bible personally, confidently, and competently, but without pride, rationalism, or intellectualism.

4) He integrates biblical studies and spirituality with Ignatian spirituality, the human sciences, and pastoral sensitivity in a way that bears directly on grass roots needs, without ever compromising orthodoxy or intellectual integrity.

Frankly, I don’t think there are any resources in the Church, including mine, that hold a candle to the combination of Martini, the Catholic Biblical Federation, and Pope Benedict.

The resources of the former two are disseminated extensively in many third world countries, and much of the western world, with the curious exception of North America. I have spoken directly with the executive director of the Catholic Biblical Federation about this, and they are trying to assume a higher profile in the United States. I have spoken and written frequently in the media about this.

Incidentally, the CBF (website c-b-f.org) was established in 1969 by Pope Paul VI to further biblical study, spirituality, and ministry at the pastoral level. Though supported by scholars, it is not oriented towards academia or highly technical issues. It is in over 80 countries and over 130 bishops’ conferences are members. It is the official pastoral biblical ministry association in the universal Church.

Pope Benedict gave his seminal exhortation on lectio divina in a 2005 address to the Catholic Biblical Federation. He is increasingly promoting it, and his lucid addresses and writings are amenable to it. His message is a wonderful compliment to Cardinal Martini’s.

Reflecting their different backgrounds, they approach and communicate the Word differently, but with similar values and objectives.

So, if you want an unbeatable literary mix for combatting the mediocrity of modern life and mainstream politically correct spirituality, you can hardly do better than Martini, the CBF, and the pope. The Martini Mix is designed to bring these superior resources to you in an affordable and manageable package. Call Karl at (412) 766-7545 or email karlaschultz@jun.com for details.  Also see karlaschultz.com for a more indepth discussion of available resources.

Book review

on Monday, February 13, I reviewed a number of books by Paulist Press on the Relevant Radio program Morning Air with Sean Herriott. This is available streamed online, at relevantradio.com, by clicking on the audio archives of Morning Air, hour one, on February 13.  The titles reviewed were as follows:

Marital Spirituality: The Search for the Hidden Ground of Love

Patrick J. McDonald and Claudette M. McDonald

 

Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John

Jean Vanier

 

Responses to 101 Questions on the Psalms and Other Writings

Roland Murphy

 

What Are They Saying About Mark?

Daniel J. Harrington, SJ

 

Invitation to the Gospels

Donald Senior, Paul J. Achtemeier, Robert J. Karris, George W. MacRae, and Daniel J. Harrington; foreword by Lawrence Boadt

 

Catholic Prayer Bible, The (NRSV): Lectio Divina Edition

Paulist Press

 

Churches the Apostles Left Behind, The

Raymond E. Brown

 

Commentary on Genesis, A: The Book of Beginnings

Martin Kessler & Karel Deurloo

 

Experiencing God in the Gospel of John

Anthony J. Kelly, CSsR, and Francis J. Moloney, SDB

Check out my interview for a detailed review. A number of these authors are so good (e.g.,  Brown, Vanier, Murphy, Senior) that it took an interview rather than an article to communicate their worth and utility. Go to Paulistpress.com for ordering information.

Feel free to email me at karlaschultz@juno.com if you have any questions.

 

Christmas and New Year’s Reading

It has been well documented that reading, particularly from a book, as opposed to electronic media, is becoming a lost art and pastime. However, that in in way reduces its value. To the contrary, in a culture that overwhelms us with noise and images, reading enables us to enter into dimensions connected to yet removed from our times. And so, it seems fitting as a New Year beckons to share some book recommendations on topics I have published and spoken on.

I have concentrated on titles from the Liturgical Press for three reasons:

1) They have not published me, so I don’t have any conflict of interest issues.

2) I probably have more books in my library published by TLP than any other press.

3) They have both popular and academic titles, and some in between, and therefore in doing a review I can cover a substantial amount of ground.

I will be discussing these on an upcoming Relevant Radio program, which I will disclose whenever it is finalized.

Because everyone is busy at this time of year, I’ll keep my comments brief and to the point.

Although it is unfair to compare books on different subject, it is also helpful to proportionately rate titles. Accordingly, I’ll start with my favorite of the titles I reviewed, and explain why, and then go in descending order. That does not mean that the last title is deficient. It just may be that it is on a topic where there are a ton of good books, and it is very difficult to stand out.

All of these titles are available from The Liturgical Press. Their website is www.litpress.org. Their phone number is 1-800-858-5450. If you decide to purchase these books, please buy them direct from Liturgical Press or your local bookstore, rather than online. Online vendors are helping put bookstores out of business, and they also cut greatly into author’s royalties.

1)  Scripture in the Church: The Synod on the Word of God (James Chukwuma Okoye, Cssp)

This is an accessible yet erudite book on a very important topic. It is always best to go to the source on a subject, and what better sources for contemporary Church teaching on Scripture than a synod and an apostolic exhortation?

The author also provides a condensed overview of late twentieth century developments in Catholic biblical scholarship. This is very helpful for understanding the context for the Synod and the Pope’s synthesis. By the way, the latter is very long and detailed, yet quite readable. Hey, were you expecting a summary, superficial treatment from a former German theological professor?

I must caution that both the book and subject are not amenable to speed reading. You are going to need to take your time with this book, as it is packed with helpful information which will require digestion. Because of the timeliness of the topic and the competence of the treatment, this gets my number one rating.

2) Lectio Divina: The Medieval Experience of Reading (Duncan Robertson)

I have written ten books on this subject, yet I found this very fresh, deep, and thoughtful. This is not a rehashing of previously published material. This is not for the beginner, however. Any person who has practiced lectio divina, read at least one or two books on the subject, and who is interested in the medieval roots of the subject, set against contemporary academic thought, will find this extraordinarily helpful.

Again, this book draws from the original sources and shows their relevance to today. An excellent book quite suited to a serious reader and devotee of the subject.  It is refreshing to see such a seminal book published in a market where the breezy and superficial so often garners attention.  The author has worked with the leading authorities and resources on the subject, and articulated them in a very comprehensible and coherent manner. Nothing less than a must read for serious students of lectio divina.

3) The Faith of the Early Fathers, 3 volumes by William A. Jurgens

Patristics, the study of the teaching of the early church fathers, experienced a renaissance in Catholic theology in the mid-twentieth century, and has continued to regain its prominence. Of course, it never went away, but great thinkers (e.g. Henri de Lubac, Jean Danielou, etc.) came along and helped us rediscover it.

This book is an excellent source for learning both about the early Church fathers and what they taught. Assembled chronologically in three volumes, this contains a wealth of insightful and reflection-inspiring excerpts from ancient but also timeless writings. Though perhaps a bit advanced for an absolute beginner, it has much to offer for both scholar and layman. An outstanding resource on an important but oft-overlooked subject. For good reason this has remained in print for over forty years. That alone speaks volumes.

4) Desert Banquet: A year of Wisdom from the Desert Mothers and Fathers by David G. R. Keller

I loved this book! Eminently readable and thoughtfully put together. It follows quotes from the Desert mothers and fathers with explanations and applications.  This is well-written survey of desert wisdom with modern relevance.  The author has good psychological insights and pastoral sense.

For personal growth value, I would take this book over  contemporary self-help titles any day. I also found it enjoyable to read, though you have to take your time with it. The author, an Episcopal priest, tackles very practical issues and provides substantive food for thought that will need to be processed deliberately. A good source for lectio divina as well.

5) By What Authority? A Primer on Scripture, the Magisterium, and the Sense of the Faithful by Richard R. Gaillardetz

This is an accessible, not overly academic treatment of important, inter-related, but oft-overlooked subjects. If you teach the Bible, and want to go deeper in your understanding of its role in the Church, this is ideal. However, I see this as being an excellent text for graduate theology courses. It goes a bit beyond popular questions and explores areas of ambiguity in contemporary thought. As with the Bible, everything the Church teaches can’t be abundantly clear, as life certainly isn’t.

This is a well-reasoned, readable book by a very competent thinker on the subject. highly recommended.

6) I would like to highlight two series published by the Liturgical Press. First, the New Collegeville Bible Commentary. Actually, this is the third edition of this series. The first was published in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The second in the mid-1980s. Both were excellent, among the finest popular commentary series available, and my review of early titles of this series indicates that the tradition of excellence will continue. To quote a popular expression, “this is what they do”: The Liturgical Press publishes excellent popular resources on the Bible by outstanding and widely respected scholars.

Containing the newly published and episcopally approved English translation of the Bible, this is an excellent resource for Bible study/sharing groups and introductory classes on the Bible.  The tradition continues!  Very highly recommended.

Second, Berit Olam, an academic commentary series on the Hebrew Bible. For the reader with an intermediate or advanced understanding of the Bible, this series is a must read. Combining outstanding scholarship with literary excellence, and reflecting a variety of traditions, I see it as a more focused and accessible Catholic equivalent of the superb Anchor Bible series. Focusing on the literary dimensions of the text, rather than obscure source-critical questions (hypothesized developments of the text over time), this serves a valuable purpose in contemporary biblical studies, bridging academia and popular studies of the Bible.   Its goals are aesthetic as well as intellectual and formational, suiting precisely the texts it explores. The endeavor is ambitious but well conceived and executed.

A worthy companion to the outstanding New Testament series published in the early 1990s and continuing into the new millennium.

Let’s end our review on a light and practical note. The Liturgical Press has long been known for their outstanding inventory reduction sales. I always got a kick out of the pictures of the publisher that would accompany the catalog. And the deals were great. Coming out in the spring, there are always excellent titles available, and often at below-wholesale prices.  Remember that a book’s sales numbers are not necessarily indicative of its value.

If you are not on the Liturgical Press’ mailing list, contact them and get on it. Their catalogues are well organized, descriptive, and colorful. They have long been a premier Catholic publisher, and remain so despite earthquake-like upheavals in the industry. From my vantage point, unlike many presses, quality has not slipped, and superficial popular trends have been avoided.  For Bible, spirituality, theological, and liturgical titles, they truly excel, and are worth keeping track of.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at karlaschultz@juno.com, or submit a posting for the blog.

Little Rock Catholic Study Bible

The Liturgical Press in collaboration with the Little Rock Bible Study has just released an outstanding study Bible containing the newest translation, the NABRE.

This is highly recommended for several reasons:

It is user friendly. I don’t particularly like the introduction by Catherine Upchurch because it seems to me to be written at too basic of a level. The trend in publishing is to dumb down the level of writing, and that was my feeling about her introduction —

But that is because I am used to reading advanced commentaries and prefer a level of writing that does not tend towards the lowest common denominator. Many people without a background to the Bible will probably like Ms. Upchurch’s style, which is transparent and accessible. I just don’t like feeling like I am having my hand held as I move through a text. Others new to the endeavor will feel more comfortable. Most publishers, Catholic and secular, have adopted this third grade level type of prose, because apparently it is where a lot of readers are at. I think it better to challenge people a bit. However, that is a biased, subjective opinion. If you are new to a study Bible, you may well be very glad for the style of the introduction.

This objection notwithstanding, Ms. Upchurch does a very good job of explaining the Bible, and will not lose the reader, so she should not be faulted. St. Augustine said he would rather be understood by the people than praised by the philosophers. She does well what an introduction should do: give the lay of the land in comprehensible fashion.

The reader should also know is that I have in the past had one of my own publications on the Bible subjected to a “dumbing down” by another writer, so I recognize when this is being done, or at least I perceive it as such, and instinctively find it unfortunate.  But again, others may like it. Read the introduction and decide for yourself.

Part of my difficulty with the introduction is that it contrasted so much reading level wise with the rest of the background articles. This is to be expected, because they are by topnotch scholars.

First, Fr. Ronald Witherup and Abbot Jerome Kodell are two of the very finest with regards to bringing scholarly concepts to a popular audience. In my opinion they are head and shoulders above the more popular popularizers who dominate the Catholic media. Irene Nowell, OSB, is also quite good. The background articles are uniformly outstanding, and not run of the mill. Even advanced readers of the Bible will appreciate them.

When I see Witherup and Kodell’s name behind a book, article, or review, I pay close attention. They are very accomplished at bringing the Bible to non-specialists without losing the specialists. This is an art at which few excel. Plus, they have no overt agenda or ideology, so you know you are getting an objective, informed, and balanced, perspective. They come across as sincere believers as well as accomplished scholars, teachers, and writers.

The LRCSB is physically appealing, well laid out, and of a very readable type size. The footnotes are superb. The new translation of the OT is outstanding.

All in all, I would rank this Study Bible with the Catholic Study Bible published by Oxford University Press, which was composed by a Who’s Who of American Catholic Bible scholars. This indeed is high praise. Actually, the LRCSB is probably a bit easier to use, and the background articles are less overwhelming and more accessible.

In summary, this continues the outstanding tradition of the LRCSB. The Liturgical Press did a great job of putting this together. At $39.95 for the paperback edition, it is a very good buy.  Very highly recommended!

Murphy’s Book

Fr. Jerome Murphy O’Connor, OP, professor at the Ecole Biblique de Jerusalem since 1967, is one of the finest Pauline scholars in the world. He is refreshing in that he is not afraid to go out on a limb, but he does so carefully and respectfully. He does not seek to polemicize or sensationalize. He is a teacher at heart, and a scholar who writes well.

I have attended Fr. Jerome’s lectures, and spoken to him individually. He is engaging and funny, as well as lucid. I still remember some of his dry wit.  He is very sincere and professional.

Fr. Jerome published an interesting book entitled “Paul the Letter-Writer; His World, His Options, His Skills.” The Liturgical Press is the publisher, from 1995.

Fr. Jerome states that this is a book for beginners, though a bit involved.  I would qualify that by saying that the beginner better like scholarly writing. It is not overly academic or technical. Other works by Fr. Jerome are far more involved. However, this is not a dumbed down book (to its credit), so be ready to think.

I found it to be very interesting and practical. It sheds light on Paul’s letter by humanizing their context. Fr. Jerome is very good about drawing out the human Paul. This can really help us avoid misinterpretation.

There aren’t many books on this subject. And it is a practical, as well as intellectual topic. Fr. Jerome writes accessibly, and in a dialogical manner. He writes conversationally in that it is like he is teaching you. This is refreshing.

You’ll have to muddle through some scholarly references, but they are necessary, and won’t overwhelm you. The book is of manageable length and tone. If you want to get a better grasp of Paul’s situation, what he had to work with, and how it affected the letters, this book is invaluable.

It can be ordered from TLP, phone 800-858-5450. litpress.org.

If you are willing to invest the time in this book, you will be richly rewarded. It is like taking a class from a master craftsman, a scholar held in high regard the world over.

I have trouble putting it down, and you likely will as well.

Worth checking out.

Fr. Brown’s Pastoral Magnum Opus

There are very few books that I can recommend to almost any serious student of the Bible. Even fewer would be equally applicable to homilist and person in the pew. This is definitely one.

Within fifteen minutes of perusing this compendium of Fr. Brown’s popular commentaries on the Sunday lectionary readings, I determined that it was a must read — first, for me, and then for those crazy enough to listen to me. It exceeds the current roster of popularizer commentaries on the Bible by a country mile. Fr. Brown comments on subjects I thought I knew well, and open up new avenues of reflection and application and background.

It offers incredible and concise insights into familiar biblical texts. It is amazing how much Fr. Brown can say with so few words. That is an uncommon gift, even for good authors.

This book is a great investment. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth every penny. The introductory articles by Brown’s colleagues, Witherup and Donahue, are also excellent.

This book is a goldmine. Its like having direct access to one of the greatest biblical scholars of the late twentieth century — who also happens to be a lucid and accessible writer.

You don’t have to be a scholar to enjoy this. Any serious beginner can handle it. With the increasing scarcity of formation available in parishes, this book fills the void.

Here is some info from the Liturgical Press website, litpress.org

Christ in the Gospels of the Liturgical Year
Raymond E. Brown, SS (1928-1998)
Expanded Edition with Essays
by John R. Donahue, SJ, and Ronald D. Witherup, SS
Ronald D. Witherup, SS, Editor
Paperback
2009 Catholic Press Association Award Winner!A decade after the untimely death of renowned Scripture scholar Father Raymond E. Brown, SS, he continues to inspire and inform scholars and preachers, students and pastoral ministers, lay and ordained. It… ISBN: 978-0-8146-1860-8
Price: $29.95

The phone number is 1-800-858-5450

If you mention my name, you won’t get an additional discount, just a certain amount of sympathy.

Start off the Easter season right with this classic, invaluable compendium.

The highest of recommendations.

Sermon on the Mount Book Review

Word Among Us Press has recently published an outstanding book on the Sermon on the Mount. It is entitled “Building Our House on Rock: The Sermon on the Mount”, and is written by Dennis Hamm, SJ.

Fr. Hamm is a widely respected and published biblical scholar. He has written insightfully on the beatitudes as well.

It is available from WAU at their website, wau.org at a price of 11.66, 20% off.

This book combines spirituality and study in an accessible fashion. Fr. Hamm is a trustworthy guide who writes well, making things understandable without becoming simplistic.

A note on WAU.

In my opinion, they are a bit of an eclectic publisher. I see this as a good thing. They are not ideologically driven. In addition to mainstream material, they publish scholarly works that are also accessible. Any serious layperson can read them profitably. Many presses shy away from these because of their lack of mass appeal. Not WAU. If a book is good, and fits their audience, they don’t let marketing concerns trump substance. Thus they publish works by very reputable authors who perhaps aren’t as well known as popular authors, but are every bit as good, and in my opinion, often significantly better.

Highly recommended.