WHY DM CHRIST DIE? by Dr. Herbert Wood (Epworth Press, 4s. 6d.).
PAUL, by Martin Dibelius (Longmans, 7s. 6d.).
IF we are to share with other Christians what they, as yet, have not, if we are to be workers for the Unity of all Christians as well as wishers, and prayers, then we must share with them what they have in as full a measure as we ourselves. If in the first "sharing" it is we who wish to give, direct and change, then in the second "sharing" it should be we who are prepared to receive and take.
Non-Catholics in general keep themselves informed of movements, studies, writings and books by Catholics, and the very first words of active recognition of our common bond in some kind of Christianity requires that we know something of the "kind" and "quality."
There is of course a certain validity and reasonableness in the attitude of the Catholic who says : "Why should I bother to read even good books by non-Catholics when there are excellent ones by Catholics that I have not rear! or that will serve my purpose of study or devotion just as well? And further there is the positive instruction and disciplioe of the Church which forbids me to read heretical books, or such as might endanger my faith.'
This is clearly a difficult and delicate subject. But it is neither so difficult nor so delicate as to serve as eitner a justification or an excuse for a complete retiring, a cutting of one's self off for mere exclusiveness and cliquiness.
The two books mentioned at the head of this column are not only the proximate cause of these reflections. They are also books which undoubtedly should be read as significant in their own communions, but also as offering considerable profit to Catholics. One is by a German scholar of international repute, Martin Dibelius, and the second by an English Nonconformist.
WHY Did Christ Die? is a small book which stems from a series of talks given by Dr. Wood in the B.B.C.'s Midland Home Service last year about this time. The series was entitled "Reading Your Bible," which might have proved a little offputting for the average Catholic; but the hook, better named, reveals more clearly the substance of these excel
They do in fact face and answer from the traditional teaching of the Church and particularly from the Holy Scripture the awful question, Why did Christ Whose every and smallest act was of infinite redemptive worth, have to die the dreadful death of the cross to save us?
The backFround and reference and illustration in these broadcast talks is modem and up to date: the basic study is the Scriptures, which themselves yield the answer to the question.
Surely quite excellent is that fourth talk or chapter in which "The Offence of the Cross' i3 studied. Very rapidly but very effectively Dr. Wood traces the "Offence of the Cross" from Lucian and Porphyry down to Shaw. All through the 50-odd pages we are made to see the modernity of the questions which St. Paul-passages from whose epistles form the greater part of the texts for study-answered so long ago.
DAM is of course concerned wholly with Saul of Tarsus.
Dr. Debelius, who enjoys an international reputation as a New Testament scholar, died before this book was completed and its editing and finishing is the work of one of his pupils, Dr.,Ktimmel, of Marburg.
. Provided that from the start one realises that one is reading not only the considered opinions of a distinguished scholar and the "faith" of a convinced and earnest Christian, but of one who could write with pontifical finality "The Church's doctrine of original sin does not come from Paul, but is, on the contrary, an erroneous development and extension of his thought." there is very much that is helpful, very much that is firstclass in this book.
Better than any book on the great Apostle of the gentiles that I can immediately recall, he explains "the mode" of St. Paul's thought. and its origin in rabinical practice and teaching.
Excellent, too, is the presentation of the problem of justification through faith as it must have presented itself to St. Paul, the missionary first of all to those who saw in the Law and the keeping of the Law the road to salvation.
The translation by Frank Clarke is unobtrusive and therefore good.
FROM time to time Alcuin rediscovers on his desk books and pamphlets to which he had intended to give a "brief note at least."
Among these is Canon Lane's little Passion Play, If I Be Lifted Up (Burns Oates). It has copious stage directions and some notes on the production which should prove useful to the small parish dramatic society.
From the Catechetical Guild of 147 East Fifth Street, St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A., comes something new in the way of catechisms, a Catechism In Verse, illustrated. The idea is good. But why only nursery rhymes?
From Brussels Confileor (Editions Foyer Notre Dame, 24 Blvd. St. Michael, Brussels). This is a method for hearing confessions for those whose language is unknown to the priest.