Journal Review: Letter & Spirit

I wanted to take a moment to alert our readers to what I consider to be the finest journal on the market dealing with Scripture and theology: Letter & Spirit Letter & Spirit is a relatively new journal (first published in 2005) from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, an organization with which I am affiliated, and which Dr. Scott Hahn founded and serves as President and also as the journal’s editor. Letter & Spirit is the only academic journal I have ever encountered that I read straight through, cover-to-cover, as soon as I get my hands on an issue. So why is it such an exciting and important journal? 

First of all, it is filled with both highly original and old classic articles that are written from the heart of the Church. Its pages are filled with writings from some of the world’s finest theologians and Catholic biblical scholars as well as some of the most important up-and-coming Catholic scholars. The entire journal is devoted to Catholic biblical theology that is rooted in the Church’s Tradition and Liturgy. The articles are academic and scholarly, and thus some of them assume a readership that has familiarity with Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic (including, in at least one instance, Syriac). Most articles are accessible to non-specialists as well, and any educated lay person would benefit from reading most of the journals’ articles. 

Letter & Spirit brings together a whole host of classic articles by some of the world’s leading Catholic theologians including Pope Benedict XVI, Jean Cardinal Daniélou, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Louis Bouyer. In addition, the journal published a sometimes hard to find English translation of a classic text on the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation written by a president of the mixed commission on that document, Augustin Cardinal Bea, and the journal also reprints an English translation of an entire book (one of his most important!) by Yves Cardinal Congar. 

Letter & Spirit also republishes classic works on Scripture from some of the finest minds the Church produced in the medieval period including St. Thomas Aquinas and Hugh of St. Victor. 

Finally, Letter & Spirit publishes original articles by some of the leading Catholic theologians of our day. Somehow they managed to get an original essay (not published anywhere else) by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn despite his incredibly busy schedule, as well as an original essay (not published anywhere else) by the late Avery Cardinal Dulles before he passed away. They have also published articles by Dr. John Cavadini, current Chair of the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, who Pope Benedict XVI recently appointed as a member of the Pontifical International Theological Commission (one of the few lay members, and one of the even fewer U.S.-born members). Dr. Hahn publishes original articles of his own in each issue, and in my opinion, they represent his best work in print. Other contributors of original articles include the internationally renowned patristic scholar Dr. Robert Louis Wilken, Fr. James Swetnam of the Pontifical Biblical Institute (one of the world’s leading authorities on the Letter to the Hebrews), the great Notre Dame (formerly at Harvard) Bible scholar Dr. Gary Anderson, the liturgical theologian Dr. David Fagerberg, the prolific Catholic theologian and well-respected Thomist Dr. Matthew Levering, the popular Catholic scholar Fr. Robert Barron, the great Thomistic scholar Fr. Romanus Cessario, Dr. Rusty Reno, Dr. Mary Healy and the renowned Dr. Michael Waldstein. The works of a number of important up-and-coming Catholic Bible scholars are featured as well: Dr. Brant Pitre, Dr. John Bergsma, Fr. Pablo Gadenz, and Dr. Rodrigo Morales of Marquette University. And there’s even more whom I omitted!!! Anyone serious about contemporary Catholic theology as it relates to Sacred Scripture and to the Sacred Liturgy, cannot afford to ignore this journal. 

LS 5This is the only journal I’ve found that consistently leads me to new (and old) insights, and that nourishes my mind and my soul. The articles are consistently of the highest quality. And the beautiful thing is that they’re all available from amazon.com, at cheap prices!!! Scholarly journals of even a lower caliber usually range from $30 to over $100, but each of these journals can be purchased for under $12 (in most cases, just over $10)!!!!!  The five volumes are available by clicking the links below:

2 thoughts on “Journal Review: Letter & Spirit”

  1. This is the only journal I’ve found that consistently leads me to new (and old) insights, and that nourishes my mind and my soul.

    Dear Professor Morrow,

    I agree with you wholeheartedly here. I find myself constantly wanting a mixture of good academic theological material and good devotional material, and it’s sometimes a trick for authors to produce both at once (and of course a treat for readers like me when we find it). Biblical theology done well aids the devotion of the soul I think better than anything else, but it’s still possible to write things in the Biblical theological genre that aren’t easy to draw from as fuel for devotion. So far forth, Letter and Spirit has been a great blessing to me in just the ways you indicate, since it consistently manages to secure both desiderata at once.

    This remark of mine was sort of rambly and inconsequential, but I’ve just discovered your site and wanted to take the opportunity to applaud you (all) on it and encourage you with it. I’ll be sure to pop back by here frequently.

    In Christ’s Peace,

    Neal

    1. Dear Professor Judisch,

      Thank you for your comments and your kind words. Please stop by anytime.

      Yours in Christ,

      Jeff

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