Book Review: Joy To The World

Joy To The World:  How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (And Still Does), by Scott Hahn

I should have read this book in the early fall, when Christ was born at or around the Feast of Trumpets.  Alas, I read this book out of season because my previous familiarity with the author’s work [1] led me to think that there might be something deeply intriguing or humorous about this work.  Truth be told, this book is not particularly funny, although the author’s logic is pretty terrible and there are massive issues of the Bible that he simply ignores [2].  This book is aimed at a Catholic audience and so there is a lot here that will simply not be of interest or will not be persuasive to those who do not accept the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, which the author simply assumes and does not feel the need to defend.  Those who do not share his view of that authority will of course find the author’s rhetoric unpersuasive in the extreme.  Those who enter this book should be warned that it is not written to appeal to outsiders to Rome but rather to insiders who can be expected to respect the authorities the author brings to bear.

As a whole this book is a short one with fourteen chapters that, combined, are just around 170 pages in length.  The book begins with a couple of chapters that talk about the importance of Jesus’ birth for the plan of God.  After that there is a comparison of Jesus’ birth to Genesis (3) as well as a contrast between God’s kingdom and the counterfeit kingdom of Herod (4) that sought to kill the infant/todder Jesus.  After that the author engages in some rather dubious discussion about Mary (5) and views Joseph as a silent but godly knight (6).  The next few chapters of the book continue the author’s discussion of various aspects of Jesus’ birth including the importance of angels (7), the value of Luke as a historian concerning details like that of Bethlehem (8), and some thoughts about the magi and their gifts (9).  After this the author looks at the shepherds (10), although he does not reflect fully on the hostility of Jewish law and tradition towards that occupation, as well as the presentation ceremony forty days after his birth (11) before looking at the flight into Egypt (11), some rambling comments about God as a family and the contradictory view of God as a Trinity (12), and then a closing ode to Catholic joy (14).  It should be noted that many of the titles of the chapters are humorous and even cute, demonstrating the author’s writing to an internal and presumably favorable audience.

Although there is a good deal in this book to appreciate, there is of course a great deal to criticize as well.  This is an author who has an open desire of evangelizing on behalf of Catholicism within other at least nominally Christian organizations, which is at least honest, I suppose.  The author engages in his normal logical fallacies, including a few examples of conflation and some ad hominem attacks on the issue of Mary being a perpetual virgin, something that the Bible nowhere indicates or even implies, but which must be taken from unbiblical tradition along with a perverse misreading of the writings about Jesus’ family, including his half-brothers James and Jude, namely the biblical writers.  Given the author’s low state of biblical awareness and his adoption of the usual fallacious grounds of Catholic discussions about Mary, there is clearly a lot that this book gets woefully wrong.  Perhaps most obviously, though, is the fact that the author engages in presuppositional apologetics about Christmas and the Trinity when those presuppositions are laughably wrong, and assumes that those who criticize Christmas as a holiday are similarly hostile to a proper view of the importance of the incarnation, something that is clearly not the case with me personally and with many other people who think similarly.

[1] See, for example:

[2] These would include his failure to acknowledge the time when Jesus Christ was actually born.  See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God, History and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Book Review: Joy To The World

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Swear To God | Edge Induced Cohesion

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