Scott Hahn's The Lamb's Supper called weak by Library Journal


#1

I found this at The Cafeteria is Closed in the commentary:
closedcafeteria.blogspot.com/2007/06/scott-hahns-reasons-to-believe.html

I work in a public library and had ordered this book. The librarian over me canceled the order after a very negative review in Library Journal. Here’s the review:

“Hahn (theology, Franciscan Univ. of Steubenville; The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth) has written a basic book of apologetics for Roman Catholic theology. Apologetic theology attempts to offer reasonable arguments in defense of religious beliefs, but it is generally considered a weak form of discourse precisely because it is so defensive. Readers looking for new reasons to believe in Christianity won’t find them here; these are just old arguments repackaged in contemporary language. Hahn relies on natural theology, proofs for the existence of God, the dialectic between good and evil, arguments about the limitations of reason, the claim that the Bible says it’s so, the testimony of the saints, and the teachings of the pope for his defense of the faith. Weakest is probably his criticism of non-Catholics and his claim that only Catholics can properly understand the Bible. Is this not old wine in old wineskins? Not recommended.”

PS I didn't write this, I just copied and pasted it.
I LIKE Dr. Hahn's writings, think he's brilliant. Just ordered his newest book  "Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith".
Actually I ordered 2!
Mimi

#2

Who reviewed Dr.Hahn’s book?

I never really thought of Scott Hahn as much of an ‘apologist’ per se, but simply as a theologian. The Lamb’s Supper seemed like an exploration into the theology of revelation, not any kind of apologetic work. But for me, it did explain and defend a preterist perspective on the apocalypse, and I thought it provided a thoroughly historical reading of the Bible’s last book. For instance, it’s not primarily concerned with prophecying imminent destruction to all mankind–as many biblical fundamentalists would have it–but rather with what is going on in John’s immediate time and space. Of course it mystically transcends that time and space, but you get the historical idea.

Anyone who tries to criticize Dr.Hahn’s book in any other way is reading it the wrong way.


#3

This book is a popular vehicle, written for ordinary people who want to understand the Mass. These criticisms are leveled as if towards something that might have pretended to be a grander enterprise with scholarly pretensions.

The closing shot: “old wine in new wineskins” betrays someone who has a passing knowledge of Scripture and is probably hostile to Hahn’s POV.

It is an excellent introduction to the main instrument of Catholic worship. Although it is not a deep scholarly work, it calls upon Hahn’s scholarly expertise and presents it in an approachable format.


#4

libraryjournal.com/article/CA6446870.html?q=Reasons+to+Believe%3A+How+to+Understand%2C+Explain%2C+and+Defend+the+Catholic+Faith

Here’s the URL for the review I posted, so it’s legit. It comes from a secular source. You’ll have to scroll down about 14 taps on your ‘page down’ button to see it.

Thanks for your response.

Peace,
Mimi


#5

this must have been written by a Protestant. who really cares, doctor hahn is a great author, I loved Hail Holy Queen. These peoplke clearly have no taste in good books.


#6

Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper is an excellent explanation of the Mass and it’s theological implications. I would highly recommend it.


#7

Why don’t you refer them to Amazon, where the book has 132 reviews written by actual readers, with an average rating of 5 stars out of 5! I haven’t checked, but I bet sites like Barnes and Noble offer similar results. It is an excellent book, I have read it twice now.


#8

Yes, good advice. Although I believe Amazon is still a contributor to PP (Planned Parenthood). They just make it so eeezy to buy, buy, buy! I think they are available at St. Joseph Communications, too.

I have The Lamb’s Supper, too. I do like the fact that Dr. Hahn can teach at the college level yet break theological things down to where the ‘average Joe and Jane Reader’ can digest them.

Mimi


#9

Just to be clear - That review isn’t for Lamb’s Supper, it’s for Hahn’s new book.
The book reviewer exposes his ignorance throughout the review.


#10

I think this is true - apologetic does tend to be more concerned with “proving” that one’s “side” or cause is “right”, so it is apt to be more concerned with trying to justify beliefs, rather than with expounding them in detail - for those details may be shared with others; but apologetic is not usually concerned not with what common ground, but with what is not.

Another weakness of apologetic is, that the line between defending one’s own beliefs, & attacking those of others, is a very fine one: apologetic can easily slide into polemic. ##

Readers looking for new reasons to believe in Christianity won’t find them here; these are just old arguments repackaged in contemporary language. Hahn relies on natural theology, proofs for the existence of God,

I have never read Hahn, so I know nothing of his books, & little of him. The difficulty with those two types of argument is, that neither is universally regarded as valid; both are often dismissed as invalid - & if a reader sees that a case is built on arguments he does not regard as valid, he’s not going to be persuaded by them or by it.

the dialectic between good and evil, arguments about the limitations of reason, the claim that the Bible says it’s so, the testimony of the saints, and the teachings of the pope for his defense of the faith.

The last two are unlikely to carry much weight except with Catholics - unless the book is intended for them. Whether a criticism is fair or not, depends in some degree on who the intended readers of a book may be.

As for quoting the Bible - the weight of the criticism will depend on what the use is to which Hahn puts the Bible.

Weakest is probably his criticism of non-Catholics and his claim that only Catholics can properly understand the Bible.

If that is claimed, it does seem a very odd claim to make.

Is this not old wine in old wineskins? Not recommended."

PS I didn't write this, I just copied and pasted it.
I LIKE Dr. Hahn's writings, think he's brilliant. Just ordered his newest book "Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith".
Actually I ordered 2!
Mimi

#11

I am not addressing the actual content of Hahn’s book just the librarians’ decision. It doesn’t really seem like sufficient reason (being a weak argument or getting a bad review) not to provide a popular book in a public library.

It is not the librarians’ job to censor which books it will or will not stock based on whether or not the subject matter is ‘weak’ in the opinion of an obviously religiously biased reviewer (new wine in old wineskins), secular source notwithstanding.

If that were the case, then the shelves of the public library would be very sparse indeed.

Is the “The Bible Code” by Drosnan on the shelves? or perhaps “Chariots of the Gods” by Eric Von Daniken? or Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision”?

It is not their place to decide if the book is of help to someone investigating the Catholic faith or not. A PUBLIC library is there to provide books, not censor them based on religious bias.

I would appeal this decision.


#12

I’ll bet that the scholarly work "The Da Vinci Code is in that Library.


#13

It doesn’t sound like the reviewer actually read the book. He’s just describing his prejudices against apologetics. It would be like saying

“This book is a science-fiction book. Sci-fi books are books read by geeks who think they are a lot more intelligent than they really are. They can’t handle real scientific texts.” :slight_smile:


#14

I worked many years in a library and know something about how the decisions are made. The selectors cannot read every book, so they do rely on reviews, and the people who audit the selectors often require referral to reviews to support why a book was chosen or rejected.

I also know that requests for a book from patrons trumps the above.

The selectors try to select a good overview of new books that have been professionally reviewed (reviews come from certain journals, publications, etc) and things they know the patrons in their service area will need and enjoy.

Most libraries are on a strict budget.

If this book is indeed popular and the people want it (might want to put a bug in some of your Catholic friend’s ears) and request it, most likely the selectors will purchase it.

You may be right that the selector made an unfair choice, but please don’t immediately jump to “anti-Catholicism” as the reason. See if another book on the topic was chosen instead, or if your library system has a good selection on this topic already.

Sometimes, even Catholics write a less than stellar book, and the money and shelf space is better used on another title.

If your library does not have a good selection of Catholic books, request such. They can’t know there is a demand if people don’t let them know. Libraries have to serve the needs of the community, or their numbers go down, and then their funds go down, and then…people lose their jobs.

It IS a numbers game, and the system does whatever it can to keep circulation numbers high. So, squeaky wheels do get heard.

It’s good that you brought this up here, so others can ask at their libraries as well.

Remember though…making an issue of something on a forum is good, but remember to also bring the issue up with the people who are in the position to address it.


#15

For what it is worth - I found that Scott Hahn’s books make excellent primers for helping sacramental catechesis - because they are written at a very readble level that even a dum dum like me can follow the line of teaching - and it translate well to passing along to kids and RCIA candidates alike. And since he takes the time to get the Imprimatur we are at least assured it is free from doctrinal error.

Especially recommend his material for neophytes (who I guess are the “Tiber Swim Team” people) who wish to solidify their basic understanding of what we do and why.


#16

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