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Book Review: Spirit & Life Essays on Interpreting the Bible in Ordinary Time

I’m going to start right off by saying that I took a long time to write this review because this book twisted me in knots.  Part of that is, frankly, my own fault for getting ahead of myself.  You see, when I picked this book to review from Catholic Company I had my own plan for what this book would be.  As a good American I was all set for a Home Depot-style how-to book replete with charts and diagrams and a reading plan, telling this Bible-reading-challenged soul finally, once and for all, how to read the Bible and actually get it.  Remember that old saying about making God laugh by telling Him your plans?  Yeah, God was having a rib-splitter here.

This is, to put a fine point on it, not a self-help, step-by-step book on how to read the Bible and in a few months know the whole story.  But that is because there is no “insert Bible-challenged individual on one side, receive exegetical genius on the other” mechanism in this world.  No, this book is far more useful than that.  Rather than teaching you  how to read the Bible as if it were a technique one can learn like pitching a baseball or riding a horse this book does something far more important – it helps put you in the proper spiritual framework to understand the Book you’re trying to read.  It is, if you will, a “spiritual” how-to rather than a “technical” how-to.  The Bible, read properly, must become a personal experience and this book helps get you on that road.

Let me use Dr. Hahn’s words to illustrate my point.  This is taken from his essay, “My Words Are Spirit And Life”, a speech given to Catholic educators but relevant to any and every one of us:

We must not approach the mysteries of faith as mere fodder for lesson plans.  We need to let that truth sanctify us.  God wants to make us saints more than He wants to use us to make others saints.  And, make no mistake abou it, that’s what we’re doing when we’re teaching the faith, no matter what our venue, no matter what our methods or technology.  We must be saints whom God uses to make more saints.

If you want to let the Bible affect your life, and if you’re searching for a way to put joy in reading the Bible this book might just be the one for you.  No, it is not for the very beginner, but it is also not so advanced as to lose anyone else.  If you’re not sure you’re ready for it, try it anyway.  Your effort and His help will get you a long way.  We as Catholics must know our Bible and this is a ready resource to help us get there.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Spirit and Life.

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