Light on the Epistles by John L. McKenzie (Thomas More Press $8.95) John L. McKenzie, the noted American Biblical scholar, is perhaps best known outside the professional circles of his subject for his "Dictionary of the Bible". The same command of his material combined with his power of concise expression which enabled him to produce it is evident in this very readable reader's guide to the Epistles.
The problem, as he realises so well, in writing this kind of book is that it can start a chain reaction of questions in the reader which have to be left unprovided for through lack of space. Even massive commentaries cannot exhaust them all. What he has decided on is to explain, along with the authorship, the purpose of each Epistle and the main points it makes as it goes along.
He gives a general and indispensable introduction of some 40 pages and the remainder of the 210 pages is shared out according to the length
and/or importance of the content of each Epistle.
The readers who are going to get full worth out of this book are the ones who use it as they read and reread the Epistles themselves again and again the only way, as Biblical scholars we know, to mine the thoughts of the Epistles and be led from light to light of faith Which God may communicate through them.
And for this Fr McKenzie is a good guide, encouraging for instance, the kind of maturity that distinguishes between the limitations of the human agent which the inspired writer is and the Divine Message he transmits and using the true restraint of scholarship (often missing in contemporary selfassertive authors in this field). e.g.. in his circumspect statement on the Johaninc authorship: "For good, if not absolutely convincing. reasons the majority of critical opinion doubts the traditional identification of the author".
One small blemish. No heading before paragraph three on page 185, so that one is left to discover that the author is no longer speaking of the Catholic Epistles in general but of the Epistle ofJames in particular.