What could be more familiar than the Christmas story -- and yet what could be more extraordinary? The cast of characters is strange and exotic: shepherds and magicians, an emperor and a despot, angels, and a baby who is Almighty God. The strangeness calls for an explanation, and this book provides it by examining the characters and the story in light of the biblical and historical context. Bestselling author Scott Hahn who has written extensively on Scripture and the early Church, brings evidence to light, dispelling some of the mystery of the story. Yet Christmas is made familiar all over again by showing it to be a family story. Christmas, as it appears in the New Testament, is the story of a father, a mother, and a child -- their relationships, their interactions, their principles, their individual lives, and their common life. To see the life of this "earthly trinity" is to gaze into heaven.
Scott Hahn's Joy to the World was one of my most anticipated Catholic reads for last year. While I didn't get a chance to read it till Friday, I do think it was one of his best books to date. One of the reasons Scott Hahn is on my "must read" list of Catholic authors is his ability to open up the historical and spiritual aspects of the Bible in ways that always leave one amazed.
So, Joy to the World was perhaps the quickest Scott Hahn book I have ever read, which is saying something because Angels and Saints was one that I flew through. What is it about his writing that works for me, well, that would have to be how cohesive and comprehensible his writing is and how well researched his topics are. I don't think I have read a single one of his books without learning something new and wonderful about the faith that we share. I really do enjoy how much his has opened my eyes and made clear certain historical biblical things within, yes, the Bible.
While I was hoping to read Joy to the World during the Christmas season, I was only just now able to get around to it. Even though we are almost half-way through January, I found myself deeply pulled into hearing about how Christ's birth then and now (like it says in the title of the book).
Even though Christmas has always made me feel an abundance of joy, it took reading Joy to the World for me to truly be able to appreciate the finer points of the Christmas season and how radical it it. One of the things that has always interested me is how the birth of Christ was first revealed to the shepherds, who were considered the lowest of the Jewish people during that period, and the Magi, otherwise known as gentiles. As this book points out, I liked how revealing His birth to these two groups shows how God is calling everyone of every nation to be reconciled in himself-though that really comes into play when you get to the Passion. That right there is pretty awesome if you ask me.
Really, when you get past the historical importance of this book and the impact the birth of Christ still has on the world today, you may be curious to know why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Well, that would have to be because Scott Hahn brings not only a new light, well in some ways "new", and joy to the whole Christmas mystery that it gets into your soul and makes one joyous for the light that Jesus brings into the world. To hear him talk about all the things leading up to and shortly after the birth of Christ really makes one think how blessed we are to be called children of God.
Lastly, it was the chapters on St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary that really round out the book. I feel with the more I learn about St. Joseph and his role in raising Jesus the more I come to respect and appreciate him.
As for the writing, Scott Hahn just has this way of pulling readers into the topics he writes about and bringing things to life. In my opinion, what really makes him a great author is his ability to relay information in a way that makes you want to keep reading. His writing is anything but boring and really accessible to readers of all ages and walks of life.
Final Verdict: Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does)- Again, Scott Hahn has written a beautiful and enlightening book, this time centered around Christ's coming and the true meaning of Christmas.
Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does) earns
this book was received through the Blogging for Books platform in exchange for an honest review.