Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Recommendation: Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI by Scott W. Hahn


Two weeks ago while I was at Notre Dame for a conference, I picked up at the Baker Book table a copy of Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI by Scott W. Hahn. I am just finishing it this evening.

Published by the Baker imprint, Brazos Press, this book is incredible. Hahn does what I had thought would be impossible: he succinctly and clearly presents a rich yet readable overview of the biblical theology of Joseph Ratzinger (a.k.a Pope Benedict XVI). So, if you don't the time or the resources to collect and read the many works of the Pope, I highly recommend you purchase and devour Professor Hahn's impressive tome. You can get it via Amazon.com here.

Apparently, I am not the only one impressed by this book. The book's web page on the Brazos website includes the following endorsements, from both Protestants and Catholics:

"Scott Hahn offers us a lucidly written and trenchant study of the biblical theology of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict. He shows how one of the most important theologians of the twentieth century gently but firmly corrected the historical critics who dominate much of contemporary academic Scripture study. Hahn further demonstrates how, in making this correction, Ratzinger/Benedict allowed for the recovery of much of the richness of patristic biblical interpretation, including typology, an integrated understanding of the Old and New Testaments, a sense of Jesus as the interpretive key for the whole of revelation, and the deep rapport between kingdom and Church. This is a beautiful and thought-provoking text, one that will prove helpful to any serious student of the sacred page."--Robert Barron, Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture, Mundelein Seminary, University of St. Mary of the Lake

"The increasingly painful bankruptcy of the historical-critical method in our time has created a vacuum precisely at the point where the living Church requires substantial nurture. Pope Benedict XVI has spoken into this crisis like no one else, and his best expositor, Scott Hahn, has done us a tremendous service by synthesizing Benedict's erudite and prayerful biblical theology into a lively, readable, and intellectually reliable conspectus. This excellent volume will be indispensable for all Christians who seek to be more maturely grounded in Scripture."--David Lyle Jeffrey, distinguished professor of literature and the humanities, Baylor University

"The two revolutions that have undermined the Faith most effectively for the young today are surely the sexual revolution and the modernist revolution in biblical theology. As John Paul II's theology of the body is the Church's triumphant alternative to the sexual revolution, Benedict's biblical theology is her triumphant alternative to modernist biblical theology. This book explains the second response to us as Christopher West explains the first. When Benedict writes about the Bible, it is like an archangel interpreting the seraphim; and when Scott Hahn writes about Benedict, it is like our guardian angel interpreting the archangel to us. Thus this is a triply beautiful book!"--Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy, Boston College

"This book arrives at an important time when many exegetes are reflecting on the relationship between historical studies and the theological understanding of the biblical text. Scott Hahn gives us a clear resume of the lifetime of teaching that Joseph Ratzinger has given to this question. Hahn's amply documented study shows Ratzinger challenging the philosophical principles of many practitioners of the historical-critical method, pointing out that faith is not an exterior norm but rather a respectful light that illumines study from within while welcoming whatever is true in the results of historical investigation. I recommend Covenant and Communion to anyone who wishes to read a competent synthesis of one of the great theologians of our time on the questions of revelation, Church, history, and language."--Francis Martin, professor of New Testament, Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC

"Covenant and Communion is a compelling manuduction right into the very core of Pope Benedict XVI's theological vision. In this clearly written and cogently argued essay, Hahn makes a convincing and highly pertinent case for what Pope Benedict holds to be the crucial challenge for the Church and theology today--the reunification, and thereby the renewal, of exegesis theologically conceived and theology exegetically grounded. By way of excellently chosen samplings from the pope's sprawling oeuvre, Hahn persuasively demonstrates the way Benedict's theology incessantly arises from and circles around the living Word of God as received and witnessed by God's pilgrim people. Theologically insightful and surefooted, this book is one of the best and certainly the most timely and urgent among the recent introductions to the theology of Pope Benedict XVI."--Reinhard Huetter, professor of Christian theology, Duke Divinity School

"Exploring the foundations of Benedict's theology, Hahn's latest book presents an in-depth exposition of the pope's theology of Scripture. This lucid exposition introduces the reader to Benedict's understanding of historical criticism, faith and reason, typology, covenant, sacrifice, liturgy, and a variety of other topics. The book beautifully models what for Pope Benedict is the central task of theology: it leads believers into a real participation in the mystery of faith."--Hans Boersma, J. I. Packer Professor of Theology, Regent College

"Scott Hahn here renders an important service in so clearly setting forth the hermeneutical principles, biblical framework, and doctrinal positions of Pope Benedict XVI, arguably the world's most important contemporary theologian. The parallels between the biblical theology of the pope and of evangelicals, together with their respective attempts to interpret Scripture theologically in an age marked by modern biblical criticism, are particularly fascinating."--Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Blanchard Professor of Theology, Wheaton College and Graduate School

"As a Protestant biblical scholar, I found Scott Hahn's exposition of Pope Benedict's biblical theology both informative and inspiring. In spite of differences, Protestants need to read this book to understand how deeply we can agree on the primacy of Christ and the Word. Through Hahn, I have a new appreciation for the mind and heart of Pope Benedict."--Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

"Scott Hahn offers the reader a superb introduction to the way in which the theology of Pope Benedict XVI has been shaped by the Bible. Hahn's crisp and clear analysis puts the reader at the very center of this remarkable pope's thought."--Gary Anderson, professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, University of Notre Dame

"In the growing body of literature on the theology of Benedict XVI, there is a conspicuously missing theme: the consciously biblical character of the pontiff's theology. If John Paul II was at heart always the Philosopher Pope, Benedict is the Exegete and Theologian of Scripture. In his new book, Scott Hahn places this concern for theology as a scriptural--and hence a liturgical--activity center stage with the verve and clarity we have come to expect from him. Hahn uses his encyclopedic knowledge of Ratzinger/Benedict's corpus to tease out many threads, weaving them into a compelling account of the new hermeneutic at the heart of Benedict's vision. Not only students of the pope but also all of us who desire the revitalization of theology and exegesis should welcome the passion and insight that Hahn has brought to bear on his subject."--Lewis Ayres, Bede Professor of Catholic Theology, Durham University

"Scott Hahn's new book on the pope's interpretation of the Gospels and the New Testament is essential reading for any informed Catholic. I have been waiting for someone to expand and bring together the conclusions that Pope Benedict XVI brings to us in his powerful book Jesus of Nazareth. This is a very important book for all Catholics, clergy, religious, and laity alike."--Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR

"This is an extraordinary book. Exploring Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's theology, Hahn masterfully sets forth the links between Scripture and Church, history and typology, Word and liturgy. In clear and succinct prose, Hahn shows how these links derive from Christ's Pasch. More than an introduction to Ratzinger/Benedict's theology--although it is this as well--Hahn's marvelous book provides an introduction to biblical exegesis, Catholic theology, and ultimately to the life of discipleship itself. This is a book for all readers, a rich feast of spiritual and intellectual transformation."--Matthew Levering, professor of theology, University of Dayton

"Biblical theology--that is, the work of tracing major scriptural themes from promise to fulfillment--is essential for the life and health of the Church. Long before his election as pope, Benedict XVI brought his wide-ranging gifts to bear in this field in a Christ-centered exposition. Even when one disagrees with some of his conclusions, Benedict's insights, as well as his engagement with critical scholarship, offer a wealth of reflection. In this remarkable book, Scott Hahn has drawn out the central themes of Benedict's teaching in a highly readable summary that includes not only the pope's published works but also his less-accessible homilies and addresses. This is an eminently useful guide for introducing the thought of an important theologian of our time."--Michael S. Horton, J. G. Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

Again, you can get the book via Amazon.com here. Professor Hahn's personal website may be accessed here.

1 comment:

Ron Ratliff said...

I too have found this book to be excellent and one I will return to again and again. Another book that relates to this is R.T. France's "Jesus and the Old Testament" which explores the role of typology in the ministry of our Lord. Good stuff!!