Saturday, January 24, 2015

Catholic Review: Jesus the Bridegroom

Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Brant Pitre, March 11, 2014. 208 pages. Published by Image. Source: Blogging for Books.
In Jesus the Bridegroom, Brant Pitre once again taps into the wells of Jewish Scripture and tradition, and unlocks the secrets of what is arguably the most well-known symbol of the Christian faith: the cross of Christ. In this thrilling exploration, Pitre shows how the suffering and death of Jesus was far more than a tragic Roman execution. Instead, the Passion of Christ was the fulfillment of ancient Jewish prophecies of a wedding, when the God of the universe would wed himself to humankind in an everlasting nuptial covenant.

To be sure, most Christians are familiar with the apostle Paul’s teaching that Christ is the ‘Bridegroom’ and the Church is the ‘Bride’. But what does this really mean? And what would ever possess Paul to compare the death of Christ to the love of a husband for his wife? If you would have been at the Crucifixion, with Jesus hanging there dying, is that how you would have described it? How could a first-century Jew like Paul, who knew how brutal Roman crucifixions were, have ever compared the execution of Jesus to a wedding? And why does he refer to this as the “great mystery” (Ephesians 5:32)?

With each book of Brant Pitre's that I read, he begins to climb the ladder of favorite writers of the Catholic faith, One of the things I've enjoyed about Jesus the Bridegroom, and Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, would have to be how he shows things through, borrowing his term, "through an ancient Jewish lens".

In a sense, I thought I was missing half of the story on why Jesus is called the bridegroom and the Church his bride, so, when I saw that Brant Pitre was tackling this subject in his latest book I knew I was going to need to read it. While I thought I knew a portion of why Jesus is called the bridegroom, I quickly realized that I knew even less than I had first thought; Brant Pitre gave me so much to think over and reflect upon after finishing his book.
   One of the reasons I found myself really enjoying Jesus the Bridegroom was how I was finally able to see the connections between some of the things Jesus said and did with things from not only the Old Testament but also in context of ancient Jewish tradition. I was really intrigued with everything surrounding weddings in the Jewish tradition back in Jesus time.

While not entirely about Jesus being the bridegroom, here are three things I learned (or learned more in depth) while reading this book.

  1. The Woman at the Well: While I had assumed there was more to the story when it came to Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, I was surprised that she was supposed to be a figure of all non-Jewish peoples and how God was calling them as well to be reconciled with him. Everything he had to say on this was both enlightening and fascinating to read about. I admit that I went back and re-read a couple of the lines whenever he talked about this portion of the book. The parallels between when Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman at the well and all the other meetings at wells throughout the OT are really interesting and something I had never noticed before.
  2. Crucifixion: I was really surprised by the sheer number of Jewish people that were crucified during 1 A.D.. While I knew a lot of Jewish and early Christian members were crucified, I was astounded by the number; at one point, I was sure I had miss read it (sadly, I didn't). 
  3. All the parallels throughout the book: Well, I for one had never noticed all the parallels between certain OT meetings at the well that lead to marriage and that of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Yet, once it was brought to my attention I started wondering how I never noticed them. I guess sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see something right in front of your face.
Finally, while I found the subject matter to be quite fascinating, it was Brant Pitre's writing the sealed the deal. His writing is deep and thought provoking, yet, it is also easy to read. Thankfully, his writing style is one that pulls you into what ever he's talking about without boring one. Which if you ask me is quite important especially when his topics are ones that could easily, if done wrong, scare a reader off. Really, his writing is very accessible to anyone.

Final Verdict: Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told- This one really makes you think and look at the Scriptures through the eyes of the ancient Jews. Enlightening yet readable.

Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told earns

This book was received through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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