This volume of Letter & Spirit contains a fascinating series of studies on various aspects of political theology. It is not a light-hearted read by any means. But it is not a theologically-abstruse collection either. The articles in this issue–written by more popular biblical scholars, such as Scott Hahn, as well as theologians who are more at home in the academy, like Matthew Levering–are accessible to the theologian and layperson alike. Although the scope of the articles may be narrow for some (in some cases discussing very small portions of biblical books), any reader can develop through reading this periodical a principled approach to scripture that is consistent with the Magisterium of the Church and faithful to the biblical text. Let me give you an example:
Even those of us who have had some exposure to biblical theology can gain new insight from the articles in this volume. Scott Hahn’s look at 1-2 Chronicles revealed many things to me that I had never seen in the text before. Hahn notes how Chronicles offers a complete theology of history as understood by the Hebrews. That history has at its center God’s word and the various events recounted in the biblical text are signposts of God’s providence being worked out among His people. The divine covenant fulfilled in Christ is shown through Chronicles to have an inner unity from the first Adam to the new Adam (to borrow a phrase from St. Paul). As Hahn says well, “Sinai leads to Zion by way of Moriah.” That is, the law leads to freedom from the law through the gift of faith identified by Abraham. The faithfulness of the people–and God’s keeping his covenant even when the people strayed–is the story told in the liturgical rituals of the Old and New Testaments. We experience liturgically what the Israelites experienced throughout their history. The chosen people become the Church and the end of salvation history is achieved in Christ.
The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology publishes one issue of Letter & Spirit annually. The articles are solicited from scholars with something unique to offer the field of biblical scholarship (and the publication’s addition of Matthew Levering to this issue shows an ability to secure articles from the most up-and-coming theologians of our time). This is a quality publication that would work well in anyone’s library. Given that you have a year to digest the content, it is even suitable for those doing more extended Bible studies or even spiritual reading in some instances. I heartily recommend this publication to anyone interested in delving more into the wonder of Sacred Scripture.
This review is part of The Catholic Company‘s reviewer program. For writing an unbiased review, I received a complimentary copy of Volume 5 of Letter and Spirit. For more information about Letter and Spirit or other great Catholic gifts, see The Catholic Company.