Thursday, March 05, 2009

Review: Pocket Guide to St. Paul by Scott Hahn

(cross-posted from

I really enjoyed this quick and easy-to-understand guide to St. Paul and his writings. Well, perhaps "easy-to-understand" isn't fair, because the topics covered here on the writings of St. Paul are not easy ones. Yet this is a reasonably accessible place to start and might even be usable, with some guidance, for a teen Bible study group.

I've always been a fan of good writing in small packages (in this case approx. 4 x 6 inches) because not only can I get to the heart of the matter fairly quickly, but also conveniently as the book can be stashed in my purse.

This book opens with a fairly detailed biography of the great saint with subtitled sections to make it easier to follow (great for moms who get interrupted a lot from their reading!) Even though I've read (and watched) biographies of St. Paul before, it's hard to keep the details straight in my head. This overview was a very helpful refresher - and also one that can be turned to again and again.

The largest chapter of the book is on "St. Paul's Thought". This is perhaps the most unique aspect of this book and a particularly welcome read in this year of St. Paul. It provides an extremely helpful overview of what St. Paul has given to Catholic theology. A quick read-through of the sub-section titles is helpful: "Why a Pharisee? Why Saul?", "The Word of the Cross", "The Good News of Salvation", "Salvation and Sonship", "The Importance of Covenant", "The Scandal of God's Fatherhood", "We Are 'In Christ'", "The Church at the Center", "Faith and Works", "The Problem of Pain", "Glory in the Cross".

I found the chapter on "St. Paul's Letters" to be particularly helpful because, even though I've read all of his letters before, and some numerous times, there's always so much more to learn. Also, I don't tend to have a ready grasp of which letter was significant for which reason. This includes a paragraph or three overviewing and explaining each of St. Paul's Epistles.

The book is rounded out with some reflections on "St. Paul and Us", a "Quick Reference for Catholic Doctrines and Practices in St. Paul's Life and Work", "The Quotable St. Paul" and "Prayers to St. Paul."

Highly recommended!

Published by Our Sunday Visitor


Maryan said...

I have this too and think it's perfectly handy... especially for finding your favorite St. Paul quote. :)

Karen E. said...

Great review, Alicia! I have it, too, and it's great.