Making Senses out of Scripture

Written by Mark Shea

(Basilica Press, 2004)

Reviewed by Colin Kerr

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I am sorry to say that I did not like this book. I have been meaning to read it for a few years, but was quite disappointed after having finally done so.

Why? It is way too simplistic. Of course, there is a large readership for the sort of elementary catechesis and apologetics that people like Shea produce, but I have to wonder why it has to be so simplistic. This book was written for someone with a high school level of knowledge of the Faith. Most of what it says is good and true, but I have to wonder what kind of high schooler would want to know about the ‘Senses of Scripture’? What adult, on the other hand, would not find in this book a whole lot of elementary catechesis to wade through before finally getting to what the title seemed to imply: an explanation of the ‘Senses of Scripture’? That begins at page 159 in a book 263 pages long!

It starts off compellingly. Shea introduces his own experience in coming to understand what the Scripture really teach us. And yet, is not this personalism just a bit too much sometimes? It is so bloggery. Yes, I am being a bit hypocritical here. Nevertheless, a textbook on Scripture—and yes, this book is a lot like a textbook—should be more formal, should it not?

On the plus side, although he has little formal theological training, Shea has a very broad understanding of the Faith, which he is able to draw on in terms of excellently timed quotes and historical reflections.

But in a nutshell, no one ever needs to go simpler than Scott Hahn when it comes to pop scriptural theology, and this book does.

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