Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper
By Brant Pitre
OVERVIEW: In this splendid book Pitre answers the questions: What was Jesus' purpose in instituting the Eucharist during the feast of Passover? And, most important of all, what did Jesus mean when he said, "This is my body...This is my blood"? Pitre explores ancient Jewish beliefs about the Passover of the Messiah, the miraculous Manna from heaven, and the mysterious Bread of the Presence. As he shows, these three keys--the Passover, the Manna, and the Bread of the Presence--have the power to unlock the original meaning of the Eucharistic words of Jesus.
AUTHOR: Brant Pitre is one of the most exciting new Catholic scholars in this generation. A professor of sacred scripture at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, he received his Ph.D in New Testament and ancient Judaism from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He travels widely to speak about the Eucharist and its origins in ancient Hebrew tradition and he is the author of Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile.
MY REVIEW: This is one of the best books I have read on this subject. It is scholarly and yet so well written that you do not bog down and want to give up. Brant Pitre is able to take ancient Hebrew tradition and open it up to give meaning to our worship today. The most important question he deals with is what did Jesus mean when he said, "This is my body...This is my blood"? He does an outstanding job with this and he helped me understand the Catholic teaching on this better than I have ever understood it before. However, I remain convinced that the bread and wine of the Last Supper are symbols and are not miraculously changed into his real body and blood. I do not believe in transubstantiation! I do believe in miracles. I just do not believe this is one. Now, what I believe about this has nothing to do with the value of this book. As I said before, Pitre makes the best presentation of the Catholic view that I have ever heard or read.
Author Scott Hahn said: "Clear, profound and practical--you do not want to miss this book." New York times bestselling author, Carl A. Anderson said, "What an exquisite view of the Eucharist as a personal encounter with Christ and the first Eucharist as a humanity-wide encounter with God!" And I like the comments of Elizabeth Scalia, managing editor at Patheos.com., "Brant Pitre puts the Eucharistic Christ into thrilling context by examining the realities of Jewish life in the first century. Believers and nonbelievers alike will better appreciate the rich cultural, traditional, and scriptural wells from which Eucharistic understanding has been drawn and developed since Jesus of Nazareth first proclaimed, 'my flesh is real food, and my body real drink.'"
As I said before, I do not agree with Pitre's doctrine of transubstantiation but I love his scholarly research and clear presentation of ancient Judaism, ancient Hebrew tradition the Eucharist and its origin. If you are a student of the Bible and interested in church doctrine you will appreciate this excellent study.