"Who Is Jesus Christ?" – Review
In Pope Benedict XVI’s recent letter Verbum Domini, the Pope called Christians to a deeper love for the Word of God. In particular, Benedict encouraged a fuller, more holistic approach to Scripture. This approach looks at the Bible through the lens of the Church, not through the lens of secular scholasticism, and it is an invitation to harness the full arsenal of Church Tradition: the Church Fathers, the writings of Saints and Popes, dogmas, doctrines, and the formulations of Church councils.
Back in late September, Catholic blogger Eric Sammons released a new book titled Who Is Jesus Christ? Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew (Our Sunday Visitor, 208 pages, paperback), a book that prematurely answered the Pope’s call.
In Who Is Jesus Christ?, Eric uses 25 chapters to explore each of the names and titles ascribed to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. The book begins with lesser emphasized labels, like “ghost” and “carpenter’s son”, then builds with familiar roles like “prophet” and “teacher”, and finally crescendos into the most fundamental title of all, “Jesus”.
While browsing the book, the content seems fairly heady. But Eric's lucid, eloquent style draws the reader from page to page without overwhelming them; anyone with a basic knowledge of the Bible should be able to understand most of Eric's meditations.
But despite its clear prose, Who Is Jesus Christ? features deep material. Quotes from Church Fathers pepper every chapter, while liturgical prayers, commentary from the Saints, and Eric's own reflections fill out the rest of the pages. This book is what holistic Scripture study looks like, a model to be emulated.
As satisfying as Eric’s book is, however, it is a lot like ice-cream: consume it too fast, and you’ll get a spiritual brain-freeze. Who Is Jesus Christ? is best swallowed in small doses.
The book is the perfect one to leave around your house, maybe next to a favorite chair or couch, allowing you to leisurely pick it up and read a chapter at a time. In fact, it would provide good reading during Advent in this way—if you begin on December 1, the 25 chapters will take you right up to Christmas—and would also be a good read during Lent.
As Mark Shea says in his endorsement, Eric’s book is an answer to “the most important question that has ever been asked in the history of the human race.” Eric’s answer is multifaceted, yet singularly focused. Using all of the interpretive tools encouraged by the Pope, Eric hones in on the unsettling, alluring, life-transforming identity of Jesus.
If you want to understand Jesus in a fully Catholic way, pick up Who Is Jesus Christ?.