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Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy Hardcover – November 8, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Image; 1st edition (November 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385509332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385509336
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since converting to Catholicism in 1986, Hahn, a former Presbyterian minister, has turned out a series of user-friendly books illuminating the mysteries of his adopted faith for the average Catholic. Here, he takes a new direction—and some risk—by addressing two audiences: fellow academics and readers of his bestselling theology books. Inviting devotees of these popular works to "go deeper," Hahn takes on the lofty subject of scripture and its relationship to liturgy. He shows how scriptural texts have been intimately tied to ritual public worship since the early Christian church and even before that in the Jewish temple. The first Christians, he writes, encountered scripture in their liturgy, not in devotional reading, adding that the Bible modern Christians read was canonized to be proclaimed during worship. For theological novices, Hahn devotes a chapter to defining such technical terms as economy, typology, and mystagogy, and to satisfy academics, he supports his text with references to the work of scripture scholars, ending with more than 20 pages of detailed notes. Hahn's approach in this book requires thoughtful reading, and it remains to be seen whether the audience he cultivated with popular works like The Lamb's Supper will warm to it. (Nov. 8)
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Praise for Letter and Spirit

“What is different about reading the Bible in a classroom and hearing it read in Church? That is the question Scott Hahn addresses in this lively and informative book. His answer is that when the Bible is read in Christian worship it becomes the living Christ present in the midst of his people. In crisp and concise prose, Letter and Spirit offers an introduction to the history, theology, and present liturgical practice of the Christian reading of the Scriptures in the Eucharist. After reading Hahn, one will never doze when the Scriptures are read in Church.” —Robert Louis Wilken, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of the History of Christianity,University of Virginia; author of The Spirit of Early Christian Thought; and past president of the North American Patristic Society

“The spirit of the great theologians Danielou and Congar breathes anew in this work of Dr. Scott Hahn. Letter and Spirit promises to become a classic in the revitalization of the liturgical renewal begun by Vatican II.” —Very Reverend Kurt Belsole, O.S.B. Rector, Saint Vincent Seminary

“This is a most important book and needs to be very carefully read and studied. Every devout Catholic should be spiritually fed by Scripture and liturgy. Obviously these two are meant to go together. In ways that you probably have never thought of, Scott Hahn brings the two together and relates them in a most integrated way. This book could be a new vista in your own spiritual life.” —Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, author of In the Presence of the Lord

“An appealingly fresh retrieval of the art of reading and living Scripture through the lens of liturgy and worship. Paraphrasing St. Francis de Sales, Hahn offers us the Bible, not so much as read, but as sung. Scholars will find biblical and theological acuteness; students and general readers, excellent scholarship expressed in friendly ways. Highly recommended.” —Dr. William Thompson-Uberuaga, Professor of Theology, Duquesne University, and past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America

“Scott Hahn’s new book, Letter and Spirit, betokens the resurgence of the art of mystagogy—the spiritual exegesis of the liturgy. A late blossom on the stem of the twentieth-century ‘Ressourcement,’ it will help to heal the eyes with which we read Holy Scripture. This has to be one of Scott Hahn’s very best books—one that will excite scholars and nonspecialists in equal measure.” —Stratford Caldecott, G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture, Oxford

“This is a wonderful book . . . Hahn’s exposition is lucid, accessible to any serious layperson, and a wonderful synthesis and summation concerning what it means to ‘pray the Scriptures’ in a life-transforming way.” —Dr. David Lyle Jeffrey, Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities, Baylor University

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I am very grateful to God and to Dr. Scott Hahn.
M. G.
This book helps us recover the real significance of the Church's Lectionary and the liturgy of the Word in the liturgical renewal of Vatican II.
Bishop Daniel Conlon
His books are easy to read and understand, and his perspective in insightful.
el paso robert

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

185 of 187 people found the following review helpful By Steven R. McEvoy on June 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Depending on whom you talk to, Scott Hahn is either a hero or a turncoat. He was raised Presbyterian, and was even on the fast track to be president at a Presbyterian seminary when he began to doubt two protestant mainstays: `by scripture alone' and `by faith alone'. So he did what any academically trained person would do, he decided to research and went back to school to do a master's in Roman Catholic thought, eventually converting to Catholicism. Since then, he has been a prolific writer and speaker on things Catholic, and why the catholic faith is the one true valid faith.

This book is part academic treatise and part faith discovery. Hahn states in the introduction that he is writing this book for both his university students, and for the general population - readers of his many popular books on things Catholic.

Letter and Spirit is a study of how scripture is central to the mass, and how the eucharistic life is central to the word. It is a study of scripture and liturgy. The book shows a clear progression in the life of the faithful from receiving the written word to the living word in the liturgy. "Liturgy is the very place of our interpretive nearness to the ancients. In our present is our beginning." p.11 So we need the form and structure of mass to help scripture to be more meaningful to our lives. "From the beginning, the two have been united indissolubly. Scripture is for liturgy, and scripture is about liturgy." p.34 So, with only one or the other, our experience of faith would be missing.

Hahn shows us that the word is God's plan for us: "In God's plan of salvation, the Bible leads God's people to the liturgy. The written text of scripture becomes the living word of God.
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Mark Bosse on January 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In the opening pages of the book, Scott warns that those familiar with his popular works such as The Lamb's Supper, Hail, Holy Queen, and Lord, Have Mercy, will find this book out of sorts with his previous works. The same went for those only familiar with his journal writings. This book does an excellent job of bridging the gap between scholastic theology and humble amateurs like myself. Though after awhile I learned to keep my dictionary readily available I was absolutely astounded with the message conveyed and connections made. This book is a true gem for anyone who wants to "get more out of" and truly participate in the Liturgy of the Word. The insight I imagine converts recieve learning the Real Prescence of Christ in the Eucharist is the best I could explain the insight Catholics will recieve reading this book. For my fellow Catholics who fully submerge themselves into the miraculousless of the Eucharist but always had trouble keeping the daydreams at bay during the Liturgy of the Word, you have found your key to triumph. I gaurantee you will not attend Mass the same way after reading this book. Enjoy, and God Bless.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Prof. David Fagerberg on November 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This significant book simultaneously concerns itself with the Bible and the liturgy and covenant history and mystagogy and eschatology -- in other words, it is a book about connections. It delves into how to connect the believer with the Bible, the Bible with the liturgy, and the liturgy with the divine economy. The name for this theological ligature is 'covenant,' and Hahn shows how God's covenant reaches us even today. In accomplishing this impressive synthesis, he shows himself a comprehensive and accumulative thinker who can place recent scholarship from multiple fields at the service of specialist and layman alike.

In this book, Hahn proposes a living relationship between Scripture and liturgy in order to draw believers into full, active, and conscious participation in salvation history. The way into God's mystery is through the divine liturgy. In asserting this, Hahn does not lean into the wind of one passing prejudice or another, but rather stands upright on the tradition, saving us from both dead conservatism and errant innovation. His important contribution is to invite us to once again integrate salvation history, sacred text, and Christian ritual so that the Bible's letter will function as spirit in the heart of the liturgical mystery.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Bishop Daniel Conlon on November 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In "Letter and Spirit" Dr. Scott Hahn shines a bright light on what God does at Mass, especially through the proclamation of the Word. The proclamation of the Word in the Church's liturgy is something far more than reading scriptural texts. As Dr. Hahn writes, "God's Word... when it is proclaimed in the liturgy, establishes the kingdom of heaven on earth." This book helps us recover the real significance of the Church's Lectionary and the liturgy of the Word in the liturgical renewal of Vatican II. What power -- for individual believers, for the Church, for the world -- lies within the liturgical proclamation of the Word of God.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Labarum VINE VOICE on November 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Scott Hahn has been leading a double life. While writing numerous popular books on Catholicism for a mass audience and gaining a wide following, he also has published scholarly papers for Catholic theological journals. He is not the only author to have had this scholarly/popular dichotomy in their work - Anglican bishop N. T. Wright is perhaps the greatest in this regard - but until now Hahn has made no attempt to bridge the gap between the academy and the pew.

In Letter and Spirit, Hahn states at the outset that this book will be different. While steering away from an overly technical presentation, there is no doubt that he is seeking to raise the bar on the conversation he normally has with his popular audience with this discussion of one of his favorite topics: the connection between Holy Scripture and the Divine Liturgy of the Church. This theme has appeared often in his books - most notably in The Lamb's Supper - but now he devotes an entire book to an exposition of the subject that is steeped in the patristic understanding of the role of Holy Scripture and the Church's liturgy.

After an introductory chapter on the importance of the ancient witness of the Church, Hahn explains three terms that appear throughout the patristic witness and form the foundation of his exposition in the chapters to follow. The first of these is `economy' - the divine plan of God's revlation and communication of Himself to mankind. The study of God's economy differs from theology - whose subject is the innermost life within the Blessed Trinity - but each informs the other.

The second term Hahn defines is `typology' whose subject is the discernment within God's work in the Old Covenant of prefigurations to what would be accomplished in the fullness of time through Jesus Christ.
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More About the Author

Dr. Scott Hahn is the author (or editor) of over forty books, including best-selling titles like Rome Sweet Home, The Lamb's Supper, Hail Holy Queen, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, Lord Have Mercy, First Comes Love, Swear to God, Understanding Our Father, Scripture Matter, Spirit and Life, Understanding the Scripture, Catholic Bible Dictionary, Many Are Called, Signs of Life, Reasons to Believe, Answering the New Atheism, Ordinary Work Extraordinary Grace, and Living the Mysteries. His academic publications include Kinship by Covenant: A Canonical Approach to the Fulfillment of God's Saving Promises (Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library), The Kingdom of God as Liturgical Empire: A Theological Commentary on 1-2 Chronicles, Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI, Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy, along with a forthcoming title, Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture (1300-1700). He is the editor of the academic periodical, Letter & Spirit: A Journal of Catholic Biblical Theology, and co-editor of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible.

An exceptionally popular speaker and teacher, Dr. Scott Hahn has delivered thousands of popular talks and academic lectures, nationally and internationally, on a wide range of topics related to Scripture, Theology and the Catholic faith. Hundreds of these presentations have been recorded and distributed by Catholic Lighthouse, The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and St. Joseph Communications. He has appeared on hundreds of television programs on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), where he has also been the regular host and presenter on several popular 13-week series (including Our Fathers Plan, The Lamb's Super, and Genesis to Jesus).

In 2012, Dr. Hahn was awarded the Fr. Michael Scanlan Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he has taught since 1990. He is the founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. In 2005, he was awarded the Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation at St. Vincent Seminary (Latrobe PA), which he held through 2011. In 2002, he was awarded Pio Cardinal Laghi Chair of Catholic Theology at the Pontifical Seminary Josephinum (Columbus OH), which he held through 2004.

Scott graduated from Grove City College in 1979 with his BA in Theology, Philosophy and Economics (magna cum laude). He graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1982 with his M.Div (summa cum laude). Scott received his Ph.D. in Theology from Marquette University in 1995 (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa). He has ten years of youth and pastoral ministry experience in Protestant congregations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Kansas and Virginia (1975-85), and is a former Professor of Theology at the Dominion Theological Institute (Dominion, VA, now Chesapeake Theological Seminary). He was ordained in 1982 at Trinity Presbyterian Church (Fairfax VA). He entered the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, 1986.

Dr. Scott Hahn was born in 1957, and has been married to Kimberly since 1979. They live in Steubenville Ohio and have six children and seven grandchildren.

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Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy
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