The Anchoress contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I’d be willing to read and review a new book she felt I would enjoy given a number of back and forths she and I have been engaging in over the last year or so. She’s aware of my trek back to the Catholic church and my (along with my wife’s) current participation in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and thought that the book would fit in well with where our journey is taking us. She was right.
The book, by Dr. Brant Pitre, is called Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper and it was superb.
My review has been posted at Pathos and here’s a teaser excerpt:
As a Protestant (Episcopalian and later non-denominational), I prayed often for the presence of God to be made manifest, the thought being that God’s presence alone would be enough to bring comfort, healing, solace – even faith. Of course, the form of God’s presence was something I always imagined to be something other than physical – real, but invisible; not felt by touch. I expected God’s presence to be experienced ethereally and I was ok with that.
Now, journeying back to my Catholic roots, via RCIA, I find that everything’s changed; God’s presence is more than ethereal.
The Eucharistic Presence of Christ is central; it forms the core of Catholic teaching and everything revolves around it. You cannot be truly Catholic and dismiss it. Dare I say it is not a thing easily or casually embraced? Nor should it be.
It is also beyond doubt the doctrine forming the greatest chasm between Catholics and Protestants.
Into that divide steps Dr. Brant Pitre and his book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist which should become, in my humble, less-than-learned opinion, a seminal work. And not just for Catholics.
Pitre wends his way through the Old Testament and ancient Jewish writings like The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Works of Josephus, The Mishnah and other writings and he ties together lose ends. He focuses on beliefs about the Passover, the Manna from heaven and the Bread of the Presence; and demonstrates their relevance to and foreshadowing of the Eucharistic Presence, and makes a forceful and powerful argument for his thesis, which is that the Holy Eucharist cannot be fully understood as a continuing Presence of God, unless considered within the context of 1st Century Judaism. For Catholics, this book will be substantiating and affirming. For Protestants, it can be illuminating and clarifying.
There’s more at the link.
I encourage you to read the whole thing… then get yourself a copy of the book (a Kindle version is available). As I say at the end of the review, “Catholics will become more aware of the richness and depth of our faith, Protestants will better understand why the Holy Eucharist forms the core of Catholicism, as reality, and not a symbol.“