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

Overview

Best-selling author Scott Hahn's works are renowned for their accessibility. Letter and Spirit follows suit, revealing the unbreakable connection between scripture and liturgy. Hahn caters to both novices and academics, including chapters defining technical terms and supporting his research with evidence from the best theological scholars.

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Overview

Best-selling author Scott Hahn's works are renowned for their accessibility. Letter and Spirit follows suit, revealing the unbreakable connection between scripture and liturgy. Hahn caters to both novices and academics, including chapters defining technical terms and supporting his research with evidence from the best theological scholars.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Scott Hahn's Letter and Spirit tackles one of the central questions of Christian worship: What is the relationship between Scripture and liturgy? With a carefulness and clarity familiar to readers of his Lamb's Supper will recognize, Hahn describes the long-standing connection between Scriptural texts and ritual public worship in Judaism and the early Christian church.
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) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Hahn, a well-known and -respected Catholic theologian (theology & scripture, Franciscan Univ. of Steubenville; The Lamb's Supper) offers a thoughtful investigation into the relationship between the biblical text and its appropriation in Catholic liturgy. Three modern theological movements-the Biblical Movement, the Liturgical Movement, and the Patristic Movement-offer the presuppositions that enable contemporary scholars to examine more closely the living hermeneutic relationship between the Bible and its use in the liturgy of the vibrant faith community that produced the scriptural texts. Hahn examines the appropriation of scriptural texts in the lived experience of this community in light of three main characteristics of Jesus' own method: economy, typology, and mystagogy. To bolster his argument, he cites church fathers, theologians, Old and New Testament texts, the teachings of church councils, Papal encyclicals, and the liturgical practice of the church. This informative and finely written book is intended for Catholics seeking a deeper understanding of their own faith as well as for students and professional theologians interested in the relationship between Scripture and the liturgy. Recommended only for academic libraries.-Pius Charles Murray, Southern New Hampshire Univ., Manchester Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781436125611
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 4/17/2009
  • Format: MP3
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Ships to U.S.and APO/FPO addresses only.

Meet the Author

SCOTT HAHN was recently appointed as the inaugural Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation at Saint Vincent Seminary (Latrobe, Pennsylvania). He is also professor of theology and Scripture at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. An internationally renowned lecturer, Scott is founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and editor of the Center’s academic journal, Letter & Spirit. He is the author of a dozen books, including The Lamb’s Supper; Hail, Holy Queen; Swear to God; and Understanding the Scriptures. His scholarly articles have appeared in various academic journals, including the Journal of Biblical Literature, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, and Currents in Biblical Research. He lives with his wife, Kimberly, and their six children in Steubenville, Ohio.

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Read an Excerpt

Letter and Spirit


By Scott Hahn

Random House

Scott Hahn
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0385516924


Chapter One



Our Nearness
to the Ancients


Few stories in Christian antiquity circulated as widely and as rapidly as Athanasius' telling of the life of Anthony, the fourth-century hermit of the Egyptian desert. Within a generation of Anthony's death, Augustine tells us,(1) the book had motivated countless Christians to take up the contemplative life in seclusion. The drama in Athanasius' narrative turned on a single moment in Anthony's youth.


Not six months after the death of his parents, he went according to custom to the Lord's house . . . He entered the church, and it happened the Gospel was being read, and he heard the Lord saying to the rich man, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven" [Mt 19:21]. Anthony, . . . as if the passage had been read on his account, went out immediately from the church, and gave the possessions of his forefathers to the villagers . . . All the rest that was movable he sold, and having got together much money he gave it to the poor, reserving a little, however, for his sister's sake . . . And again he went into the church, and he heard the Lord say in the Gospel, "do not be anxious about your life" [Mt 6:25]. He could stay no longer, but went out and gave those things also to the poor . . . he henceforth devoted himself outside his house to discipline.(2)

It is a rich passage for those who wish to understand the history of biblical interpretation. Athanasius' Life of Anthony made a profound impression on the greatest exegetes of the next generations: Augustine, Jerome, Rufinus, Evagrius. And the author himself, Athanasius, played a crucial role in the history of the formation of the New Testament canon.

For our purposes, though, the passage is important not so much because of its effects or its author, but because of the window it opens upon biblical interpretation in an early Christian community.

What we encounter in this episode is not merely evidence of a received text-two stories from Matthew's gospel-but also the very process of reception. Anthony's turning point came at the mid-third century, when the canon had not yet reached a final and universal form.

Athanasius shows us, here as elsewhere, that the ordinary place of biblical interpretation was the church, and the ordinary time was the liturgy. In the ancient world, the church's liturgy-its public, ritual worship-was the natural and supernatural habitat of the church's scriptures.

This was true not only of the Christian ekklesia (church), but also of the qahal (assembly) of ancient Israel, which proclaimed and chanted the scriptures in its liturgies of synagogue, temple, and home. Biblical religion was liturgical religion, and its sacred texts were primarily liturgical texts. This is what makes the witness of the church fathers so valuable for biblical studies. Christopher Hall speaks of the fathers' "hermeneutical proximity"-their interpretive nearness-to the biblical world. The overwhelming witness of the fathers and the rabbis is not an accumulation of the conclusions of scientific exegesis, but rather a great mass of liturgical sermons, catechetical lectures, and rubrics for worship. Even the "passing on" of the texts and doctrines-for Christians the traditio and redditio-was, then as now, a liturgical action. The Christian fathers received the texts, prayed the texts, proclaimed the texts, venerated the texts, and passed on the texts in ways that were similar to, and continuous with, those of their apostolic and Jewish ancestors.

For both Jews and Christians, the scriptural texts, though historical in character, were not merely records of past events. Reading them in public was more than just the preservation of a national saga. The scriptures were intended to sweep the worshiper into their action-"as if the passage had been read on his account." More than two centuries after Jesus spoke his words to the rich young man and to the crowd, Anthony (and his biographer) assumed that the words were addressed directly to himself. The historical words were actualized again in the life of a contemporary listener, a contemporary worshiper. And Anthony's own participation in salvation history was itself history-making for future generations.

Biblical scholarship of the last century and a half has profited immeasurably from the wider cultural current of historical consciousness-that is, the growing awareness of the conditioning influence of historical and cultural circumstances. Perhaps more than any other field, biblical exegesis has tested the limits of the historical-critical method. If we are more aware today of the common liturgical ground of Israel's qahal and Christianity's ekklesia, it is because of these movements in scholarship, aided by important discoveries in other fields, not least in archeology and textual and documentary analysis.

In our diligent pursuit of the Bible's elusive Sitz im Leben (its original life-setting), we find ourselves, surprisingly, in a familiar place: in the ritual public worship of the congregation. If we can hope for any insight into our proto-Christian and Israelite forebears, it is because we, like the fathers Anthony and Athanasius, share something in common with the ancients. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has warned against a too-eager appropriation of the fathers: "to return to the classical work and to omit what we have learned over the last two hundred years is not a possibility."(3_ But it is arguably the best critical scholarship that has led us again to that original setting. "As to the origin of the Scriptures," wrote scholar Geoffrey Wainwright, "much of their material . . . has been judged by contemporary scholarship to have had its Sitz im Leben in the worship of the believing community."(4)

Liturgy is the very place of our interpretive nearness to the ancients. In our present is our beginning.

When I speak of liturgy, I mean the ritual public worship of God's covenant people. I speak primarily of the eucharistic liturgy, but not only that; for all the sacramental liturgies, as well as the liturgy of the hours, find their origin and source in the scriptures-and are similarly saturated with biblical texts. And all the church's liturgies share with the scriptures a common end: Deo omnis gloria-all the glory to God.

In the course of this book, I want to explore the liturgical content of the Bible and the liturgical context in which the scriptures were first produced, canonized, and proclaimed. I hope to demonstrate the living relationship between scripture and liturgy, and how this relationship enables both, together, to draw believers, as active participants, into the divine drama of salvation history.


CHAPTER 2


Defining Terms


Nowhere is the relationship between Bible and liturgy presented so vividly and succinctly as in the Bible itself, specifically in Luke's account of the conversation on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-25).

It is the Sunday after Jesus' crucifixion. Two disciples make their way along the road from Jerusalem when they are joined by a third man. It is Jesus, Luke tells us, but the disciples "are kept from recognizing him." Jesus questions them and draws out their dismal account of the previous Friday's events. They conclude by expressing their frustrated hopes: "But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel."

Jesus (still incognito to the two) weighs in immediately with his judgment, faulting them for their lack of faith, which he describes in terms of a failure to receive the scriptures properly: "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!" (v. 25). He follows, logically, by correcting their interpretation, replacing it with a thoroughgoing exegesis of his own. Significantly, Luke discloses not the content of Jesus' interpretation, but rather his method: "beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."

Later, the disciples will reflect on their hearing and say, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" For the moment, however, their understanding is incomplete, and they ask the stranger to remain with them when they stop for the night's lodging. It is then that the passage reaches its narrative climax: "When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight."

Shortly thereafter, when they encounter the apostles, they tell the story of "what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread."

Volumes of biblical and liturgical theology have been written interpreting only this passage. Here, I would like merely to draw out three characteristics of Jesus' method, encapsulated in three technical terms: economy, typology, and mystagogy.

There is a certain novelty to these terms, though none is new. Two appear prominently in the New Testament, and all three stand out as hallmarks of early Christian exegesis. Yet, in the first half of the twentieth century, they received scant attention in the theological manuals and almost no attention from scholars. All three have since reentered the vocabulary. Their recovery is attributable at least in part to three theological movements: the biblical, the liturgical, and the patristic.
Economy, typology, mystagogy: Since these terms are key to the argument of the rest of the book, and their recovery has been recent and intermittent, it will be good to spend some time discussing them now, in an integrated way, using the Emmaus passage of Luke's gospel as a touchstone.


Economy


Jesus' exposition on the road to Emmaus included "all the scriptures" "beginning with Moses and all the prophets." Implicit in this is a unity of purpose throughout the many diverse sacred books of the Jews. Jesus discerned there an orderly plan, unfolding throughout history and expressed in the inspired record, a plan that would culminate in his own saving work.

This notion of an overarching plan in creation and salvation history is hardly peculiar to the Emmaus episode. It is everywhere in Hebrew and Christian thought; and it finds its summary statement in Ephesians 1:9, which describes "the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things." The Greek word translated here as "plan" is oikonomia (Latin, dispensatio). Etymologically, it derives from oikos and nomos, household and law. The oikonomia, the divine economy, is the principle governing all creation as well as all the events of salvation history. It is the law of God's cosmic "household."

The domestic association is richly suggestive. For Paul, history revealed God's fatherly plan for humankind. Later, both the church fathers and their rabbinic contemporaries spoke of the scriptures in terms of "divine accommodation"-God stooping down to communicate with his children on their level, or lifting them up to see from a divine perspective. In the third century, Origen wrote of this as a manifestation of God's fatherhood: "whenever the divine plan [oikonomia] involves human affairs, God takes on human intelligence, manners, and language, just as when we talk to a child of two we talk baby-talk."(1) Origen was surely building here upon the Septuagint, which renders Deuteronomy 1:31: "The Lord your God took on your manners as a man would take on the manners of his son."

A modern rabbi and scholar, Stephen D. Benin, traced the patterns of divine accommodation in Jewish and Christian thought and finds a consistent paternal purpose in God's condescension and elevation. Benin concluded: "God uses history pedagogically."(2) He teaches through the events that correspond to his eternal plan.

This Pauline term oikonomia was to dominate patristic theology and exegesis. Indeed, oikonomia is sometimes translated into English simply as "theology," though that is an imprecision. In the writings of the Greek fathers, the word theologia refers specifically to doctrine and contemplation of the Trinity. Oikonomia refers more broadly to God's dealings with creation.(3) Jean Corbon pointed out, further, that oikonomia means "more than simply the 'history of salvation'; it is the dispensation, or wise arrangement by stages, whereby the mystery that is Christ is brought to fulfillment."(4)

Theology and economy are, of course, related terms, and the modern academy includes both activities within the field of theology. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 236) distinguishes the terms even as it demonstrates their relationship:


The Fathers of the Church distinguish between theology (theologia) and economy (oikonomia). "Theology" refers to the mystery of God's inmost life within the Blessed Trinity and "economy" to all the works by which God reveals himself and communicates his life. Through the oikonomia the theologia is revealed to us; but conversely, the theologia illuminates the whole oikonomia. God's works reveal who he is in himself; the mystery of his inmost being enlightens our understanding of all his works.


Indeed, the Catechism's editor, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, identified the oikonomia as the "leitmotiv running through the whole of the new Catechism . . . It is certain that the theme of the divine economy is woven through all four parts" [italics in original].(5)

Schonborn goes on to sketch the trinitarian shape of the economy: "The whole of the divine economy has no other source or purpose than this infinitely blissful [trinitarian] life: the economy is therefore expressed in accordance with the great moments of the communication of this life: the word of creation and divine governance (Providence), the work of redemption through Jesus Christ and the work of sanctification in the Holy Spirit through the Church. . . . in the age of the Church, it becomes the sacramental economy."(6) Corbon anticipated this conclusion: "From Pentecost on, the economy has become liturgy because we are in the stage of response and of the synergy . . . of Spirit and Church."(7)

What Christ revealed at Emmaus, then, was nothing less than the plan, the dramatic plot, the story line for all of history before him and after him. By unveiling the "things concerning him" "in all the scriptures," he made possible the work of exegesis and of biblical theology.

Continues...


Excerpted from Letter and Spirit by Scott Hahn Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction 1
Chapter 1 Our Nearness to the Ancients 7
Chapter 2 Defining Terms 13
Chapter 3 The Unities of Scripture and Liturgy 33
Chapter 4 Covenant: The Bond of Unity 53
Chapter 5 "In Your Hearing": Liturgical Proclamation of the Word 71
Chapter 6 The Persistence of Memory: Anamnesis and Actualization 87
Chapter 7 Proclamation and Parousia 103
Chapter 8 Where Tradition Lives 123
Chapter 9 Apocalypse and Mystagogy 143
Chapter 10 Etched in Memory 159
Abbreviations 175
Notes 177
Works Consulted 199
Index 231
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2009

    Another Great Book!

    Scott Hahn does it again. This book is clear and informative no matter what level of reading and/or study you are on. Good for beginners and those who are very involved in the faith. I would highly recommend this for all. Very readable. Will recommend it to my RCIA students.
    I would suggest his other books especially The Lamb's Supper; also Fundamentals of the Faith by Peter Kreeft.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Want to learn the Catholic Mass? Study the Bible!

    Scott does an excellent correlation demonstrating that one of the Canonical requirements for validating the Bible, that is "Use in Eucharistic Liturgy", is well supported in this writing.

    I strongly recommend this book for any Catholic who desires to look deeper into the roots of our Liturgy.

    It could rival a Liturgy 101 in the seminary.

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    Posted December 28, 2010

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    Posted January 14, 2010

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    Posted January 8, 2011

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    Posted December 26, 2009

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