Dr. Scott Hahn is a convert and superstar Catholic teacher, author and speaker. His recent book, Consuming the Word, is a sequel of sorts to his earlier work The Lamb’s Supper. Here, Dr. Hahn again looks at the liturgy of the Mass and its relationship to Holy Scripture.
Jesus spoke of the new covenant (a/k/a new testament) not as text, but of Himself and present in the Eucharist. He did not command the Apostles to write anything (and few did), but rather to, using sacrificial language, DO something in His memory. This book explores this fact, the early Church and scripture.
Mass is the liturgy of the new covenant, the new testament, and is the once and for all sacrifice of our Lord. In the time-line of history, Christians observed this sacrificial liturgy before the text of the New Testament document was written and long before it was canonized as the Bible. Dr. Hahn notes:
What the first Christians knew as the “New Testament” was not a book, but the Eucharist. In a cultic setting, at a solemn sacrificial banquet, Jesus made an offering of his “body” and “blood.” He used traditional sacrificial language. He spoke of the action as his memorial. He told those who attended to repeat the action they had witnessed: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:10). Thus he instituted the Christian priesthood and established the Church’s liturgy. He authorized clergy to do what he was doing: to make a memorial offering of his body and blood.
Jesus did not say “read this” or “write the following” but rather He said “do this.” Specifically, He told His priests (the Apostles) that this liturgy is the “new covenant in my blood.” Indeed, that is what they did and have done continuously to this very day. That is the Mass!
The book is medium sized, 5.5″x8.5″ at 159 pages. It is divided into 15 chapters, structured thus:
- Forward by Cardinal Donald Wuerl
- Taste and See: A Prefatory Word
- Chapter 1: The Sacrament of the Scroll
- Chapter 2: Before the Book
- Chapter 3: The New Testament in the New Testament
- Chapter 4: The New Testament After the New Testament
- Chapter 5: The Original Setting of the New Testament
- Chapter 6: The Church of the New Testament
- Chapter 7: The Old Testament in the New Testament
- Chapter 8: The Canon of the New Testament
- Chapter 9: The New Testament and the Lectionary
- Chapter 10: Trusting the Testaments: The Truth and Humility of the Word
- Chapter 11: The New Testament and Christian Doctrine
- Chapter 12: The Mysterious Plan in the New Testament
- Chapter 13: The Sacramentality of Scripture
- Chapter 14: The Testament at the Heart of the Church
- Chapter 15: Coming Full Circle
- Sources and References
I found the points Dr. Hahn makes to be excellent. Every Christian should be intimately familiar with them as foundational for our faith. That said, the book was a hard read for me and took a unusually long time to complete. Not that it was difficult, but more that it does not flow smoothly from chapter to chapter and the points somehow did not standout as strongly as they deserved. Your mileage may vary.
I strongly recommend that you study this topic. It may be an eye opener for Protestants (you will find the book to be very biblical with copious references). Consider the book, seeing Dr. Hahn speak in person or on recorded media (e.g. YouTube). He is an insightful and inspirational scholar.
Notice: Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.