Friday, November 14, 2014

RBL review of Hahn's "Consuming the Word"

In the latest RBL, there is a very positive review of Scott Hahn's book, Consuming the Word: The New Testament and the Eucharist in the Early Church (Doubleday, 2013), written by Sonya S. Cronin (Florida State University). 

Cronin offers a masterful survey of the book's contents: 

A few quotes:
"While not specifically geared to the academic, it is rich enough in its logical progression to appeal to the intellectual, yet simple enough in its explanations to be accessible the lay reader."  
"This book is valuable for Catholics, non- Catholics, academics, and laypeople—anyone who wishes to understand the role of Scripture in Catholic confessional lives and liturgical worship." 
I couldn't agree more! 

As Cronin writes, "Although this is a very theological project, Hahn has used textual evidence to make his historical claims."

Indeed, this book is very well researched and convincing. Among other things, it discusses the way scripture emerged out of the liturgical life of the early church and shows how the question of "canon" was essentially a liturgical issue ("canon" = which books are to be read in the "churches")

One key point: Hahn shows that "testament" was really just a Latinization of the term "covenant". That translation issue has obscured the link between the books of the "New Testament" and the eucharistic celebration of the "cup of the New Covenant" in early Christianity. 
"The documents weren't complete till the end of the first century, and even then they were not called 'New Testament' till the end of the second century. The documents only gradually took that name, again because of their liturgical proximity to the covenant sacrifice, the Eucharist. They were the only books approved to be read in the Eucharistic liturgy, and they were 'canonized' for that very reason. Thus, precisely as liturgical books, they were called the New Testament." (CTW, 40-41)
Indeed, on the back cover there's a great quote from patristic scholar, John Cavadini (Notre Dame): 
After reading Consuming the Word, I will never hear the the phrase 'New Testament' in the same way again. This book offers a soul-satisfying account of the organic connection between the liturgical life of the Church and Scripture, between the Incarnation in flesh and the Incarnation in words. . ."
The historical argument regarding the meaning of "New Testament" is just one of the many insightful elements of this book though. There's a lot more to it, obviously. 
If you subscribe, I'd recommend reading the whole review at RBL. . . and then buying the book. 

1 comment:

Anon said...

Benedict XVI also talked about us consuming the Word in the Liturgy a few times in his catechesis series.

Can't wait for the Year of Consecrated Life!