Thursday 11 March 2021

James: Jewish Roots, Catholic Fruits - Shane Kapler

James: Jewish Roots, Catholic Fruits
ISBN 9781621386902
ISBN 9781621386919

I have been greatly impressed by each book of Kapler’s that I have read. My favorite is Marrying the Rosary to the Divine Mercy Chaplet, but this one is a very close second. I also benefited greatly from The Epistle to the Hebrews and his contribution to Tending the Temple. This book goes into such depth into the book of James and its implications. The description of the volume is:

“The Epistle of James has long been a reminder that the Tree of Life—Christ’s Cross and Gospel—was planted in rich, Jewish soil. James, steeped in Israel’s wisdom literature, law, and prophets, and set aflame by his encounter with the Risen One, passionately addresses matters of spiritual life and death. Shane Kapler looks at the epistle through the eyes of its first-century Jewish-Christian readers, unpacking its lavish content and showing how this inspired text has yielded, century after century, abundant fruit for the Church.

Readers will also find an in-depth explanation of James’s identity as a “brother of the Lord,” and what the historical reception of his epistle reveals about the formation of the New Testament canon and Christ’s mechanism for overcoming doctrinal divisions.”

The chapters are:

1 The Epistle’s Inclusion in the New Testament 
2 Our Author and the Family of Jesus 
3 Salvation—A Synergy of Faith and Works 
4 The Redemptive Nature of Suffering 
5 Sacred Tradition, Source of the Written Gospels 
6 Social Justice: The Gospel’s Economic Demands 
7 Anointing and Prayer: Healing for Body and Soul 

I hold a Religious Studies Degree, with specializations in Roman Catholic Thought and Jewish Studies. This book would have been an excellent resource during my studies 15-20 year ago. Kapler has written another excellent volume. It is a book I know I will return to and read again. It has incredible depth, and yet is written in such a way that lay people will benefit immensely from reading it. Anyone with a secondary school education can read it. The end of the introduction states:

“Preliminary to this, however, we will spend time familiarizing ourselves with the history of the Epistle of James and its author. Not only will such knowledge provide a foundation for our study, but it will also impart important truths about the nature of Scripture and the earthly life of Jesus and his family—his mother in particular.”

And the first chapter begins with:

“For twenty-first-century Christians the Epistle of James’s status as an inspired work is a given, but that was not always the case. In this first chapter we will explore James’s gradual acceptance by the Church at large, the doubts that reemerged at the time of the Reformation, and the theological conclusions to which such a history should lead us regarding the relationship between the Bible and the Church.”

Kapler writes in a very engaging manner. And even though the volume world be excellent as an academic text or as a supplemental text. It is also an excellent volume for the lay person interested in going deeper in their faith. It is another excellent volume from Kapler’s pen, and I highly recommend it. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Shane Kapler:
The God Who Is Love
Through, With, and In Him
The Epistle to the Hebrews
Tending the Temple
Marrying the Rosary to the Divine Mercy Chaplet

Books contributed to:
Man Up!

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