Sunday, October 4, 2015

New Testament Basics for Catholics by John Bergsma

After reading this book, I want to read the previous book by Dr. Bergsma called Bible Basics for Catholics: A new Picture of Salvation History. But don't worry if you have not read it yet because the first chapter in this book gives you a quick summary of the Old Testament. One of the things that appealed to me about reading this book is an interest in understanding the overarching story of salvation history and more specifically the history of the Church founded by Christ and told in the new testament. I love the organization of the book. It simplifies the whole of the new testament by revealing the differences and similarities of the Gospels and Paul's letters. You will find shortcuts and  suggestions to help you remember important points of the bible and chronological timeline. But there is also an indepth analysis of the books of Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Hebrews and Revelation. Dr. Bergsma states "Every sacrament is rooted in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Baptism is a sharing in Jesus’ dying and rising . In Matrimony we give our body to our spouse as Jesus gave his body on the Cross. The Eucharist makes present once more the sacrifice of Christ’s crucified body . And we could go on."
It is a big help in bible study to understand the audience the author of the original bible books  intended and the Greek meaning of words unpacked for the reader. But, I also think in Testament Basics the author speaks in common language we can all understand. You can read it like a novel straight through and keep it close by when studying the new testament. There is also enough catholic theology that helps in understanding the church's perspective as well. Bergsma states "We should call them “the books we read when we celebrate the New Testament,” or “the books that tell us about the New Testament,” because that’s what they really are. The New Testament itself is the Eucharist . To read the New Testament books without going to Mass is like looking at a menu without ever eating the meal, or reading about swimming without ever jumping in the pool. The Bible says the “new testament” is the Eucharist."
Dr. Bergsma is an associate professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville Ohio. He is a Catholic convert as of 2001 and a Catholic Biblical Scholar and Theologian. He earned his PhD in Scripture from Notre Dame. I would definitely recommend this book to you. It was a pleasant surprise to find humor and ease of reading. I was prepared for a more professorial dry read but Basic Testament is very readable, easy to understand but gives the more experienced bible student a vast insight into scripture.

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