Language of the Heart - Table of Contents

How to Read the Bible: A User’s Guide for Catholics


Introduction to the 2017 Edition

1. Why Read the Bible?
The Same Profound Human Concerns
What Does Faith Offer to a Person’s Life?
A Distinctive, Challenging Sense of God

2. The Word of God in Human Words
Problems in Accepting the Scriptures as the Word of God
Revelation and Inspiration
Contemporary Biblical Interpretation
Revelation Continues

3. The Story of a People: The Age of the Patriarchs
Settlement in Palestine
The Period of the Monarchy
The Story of Ruth
King Saul
King David
The Revolt of Absalom
The Beginnings of Hebrew Literature
King Solomon
The Division of the Kingdom
The Destruction of Israel (The Northern Kingdom)
The Destruction of Judah (The Southern Kingdom)
and the Babylonian Exile
The Prophets
The Writings
Establishing the Canon
Further Complications

4. Gender Equity and the Scriptures
Language and Imagery About People
Our Language and Imagery About God
The Spiritual Reality of God
The Lord
Pronouns About God

5. Abraham and Sarah: People of Faith in a World Like Ours
A Format for Exploring Scriptural Narratives
When Disaster Strikes
The Problem of Pain
Family Crisis

6. Moses: A Narrative of Freedom
The Plagues
The Crossing of the Sea

7. A God Who Saves: The Foundations of Jewish Faith
The Jewish Understanding of God
The Avenging God
The Forgiving God

8. The Law of Moses: The Ten Commandments and the Other 603
The Ten Commandments
Commandments About God
Commandments About Relationships Among People
Other Examples from the Law of Moses
Concern for the Weaker Members of Society
Laws About Revenge

9. Creator of Heaven and Earth
A. The Story of Adam and Eve
B. The Seven Days of Creation
C. The Problem of Evil

10. The Prophets
A. Comments on Their Society
B. How Did It Feel to Be a Prophet?
C. The God of All Consolation
D. The Hope for Messiah

11. The Wisdom of the Sages
A. The Book of Job
B. Qoheleth/ Ecclesiastes
C. The Song of Songs
D. The Books of Wisdom

12. The People’s Prayerbook: The Book of Psalms
Themes of the Psalms
1. In Praise of the Creator
2. The God Who Changes History
3. The Songs of Ascents, the Ceremonies
4. Life Prayers

13. Jesus: Some Background Impressions
Jesus in His Homeland
Jesus and His Family
Did Jesus Have Brothers and Sisters?
Didn’t His Mother Know of His Greatness?
Was Jesus Married?
The Religious and Political Background
The Priests
The Scribes or Rabbis
The Pharisees
The Sadducees
The Essenes
The Zealots
The Herodians
Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee
Climax in Jerusalem

14. The Resurrection of Jesus
Philosophical Understanding About Humanity
Dualistic vs. Unitary
Body and Soul, Flesh and Spirit
The Resurrection of Jesus
1. The First Letter to the Corinthians
2. The Empty Tomb
3. The Road to Emmaus: A Narrative of Transformation
4. The Transforming Power of the Resurrection
5. The Ascension: Overcoming the Feeling that Jesus Has Left Us Behind

15. How the New Testament Came to Be
The Letters of Paul
The Synoptic Tradition
The Gospel According to John
Other Christian Writings

16. Mark: Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God in the Gospel According to Mark
A. The Title
1. Gospel
2. Jesus
3. Christ
4. Son of God

B. Part One: The Ministry of Jesus
1. The Disturbing Radical
2. The Attractive Healer

C. The Mid-point of the Gospel: Assessment and Adjustment
1. The People’s Opinion
2. The Disciples’ Opinion
3. Jesus Begins to Clarify His Sense of Messiahship
4. The Last Temptation of Christ

D. Part Two: Jesus Clarifies His Mission

E. The Culminating Revelation: The Death of Jesus
1. Jesus’ Cry from the Cross
2. “Truly This Man Was God’s Son!”

17. Matthew and Luke: Distinctive Gospels in the Synoptic Tradition
The Gospel According to Matthew
The Community in Which the Gospel Was Created
The Flow of the Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel According to Luke
The Community in Which the Gospel Was Created
The Flow of the Gospel of Luke
The Portrait of Jesus in Luke

18. The Reign of God and the Miracles of Jesus
The Reign of God
1. The Reign of God: God’s Action in Our Lives
2. The Reign of God Is Communal
3. The Reign of God Is Now…and Not Yet

The Miracles of Jesus
1. What Is a Miracle?
2. The Healing Miracles: God Acts to Bring Wholeness
3. Miracles of Vision
4. Good Versus Evil: The Exorcisms
5. Miracles of Creative Power and Abundance
6. The Final Enemy: Life Conquers Death

19. The Parables About the Reign of God
Look for the Unexpected
The Parables: Weapons in Controversy
Descriptions of the Action of God
We Must Accept God’s Invitation
The Christian Way of Life

20. The Moral Wisdom of Jesus
Examples of the Moral Wisdom of Jesus
1. Respect
2. Intention
3. Lasting Marriage
4. Honesty
5. Forgiveness, Not Revenge
6. Love Your Enemies
The Value of Poverty, the Danger of Wealth
Impossible Without God’s Help

21. The Life and Letters of Paul
A. The Conversion Experience
B. Some Characteristics of the Letters of Paul
C. Early Controversy: ‘Kosher Christianity’ and the Letter to the Galatians
D. Life Beyond Death: The First Letter to the Thessalonians
E. The Community of Believers: The First Letter to the Corinthians
1. The wisdom of God overcomes the wisdom of the world
2. Marriage in the ‘End-Time’
3. Eucharist and Community Life
4. The Community as a Living Organism Inspired by the Spirit of Love
F. Life in the Believing Community
1. Constructive Behaviour
2. Structure in the Christian Community
G. Who Is Jesus?
H. The Gospel According to Paul: The Glorious Freedom of the Children of God
1. Freedom from…
2. Freedom by the gift of God
3. Freedom for Wholeness: A Saved Way of Life

22. I Have Come That They May Have Life: The ‘Book of Signs’ in
the Gospel According to John
A. The Good News According to John
B. Theology Expressed in a Distinctive Style
C. Theology Expressed in a Distinctive Vocabulary
D. Authorship and Process of Composition
E. The Introductory Chapter
1. The Prologue
2. John the Baptist
F. The Book of Signs
1. The Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12)
2. The Cleansing of the Temple (John 2:13-23)
3. The Conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21)
4. The Samaritan Woman at the Well (John 4)
5. The Relationship Between the Father and the Son (John 5)
6. The Bread of Life (John 6)
7. A Series of Conflicts (John 7 and 8)
8. Seeing and Believing: The Man Born Blind (John 9)
9. The Good Shepherd (John 10)
10. The Resurrection and the Life: The Raising of Lazarus (John 11)
11. Summary: Who Is Jesus According to the Book of Signs?

23. Now the Hour Has Come for the Son of Man to Be Glorified:
The ‘Book of Glory’ in the Gospel According to John
A. The Great Discourse at the Last Supper
1. The Meaning of Jesus’ Death: Departure and Return, Support for Believers
2. The Meaning of Death for Christians
3. The Coming of the Spirit of Truth
4. The Christian Way of Life
5. Jesus’ Great Farewell Prayer (John 17)
B. The Glorious Death of Jesus
C. The Resurrection and the Gift of the Holy Spirit
1. Mary Magdalene
2. The Gift of the Spirit
3. Doubting Thomas
4. Appendix
5. The Conclusion of the Gospel

24. Odds and Ends: Other New Testament Writings
The Letter to the Hebrews
The Letter of James
The Letters of Peter
The Letters of John
The Letter of Jude
The Book of Revelation

25. Christmas
The Sequence of Events in Matthew
The Sequence of Events in Luke
Theological Purposes of the Christmas Stories
Who Accepts Jesus, and Who Rejects Him?
Miraculous Conception
Intimations of Greatness

26. Life Everlasting
A. What Did Jesus Say About Life Beyond Death?
B. The Earliest Christian Teaching: The First Letter to the Thessalonians
C. “With What Kind of Body Do They Come?” The 1st Letter to the Corinthians
D. Reimagining Heaven
1. Where Is Heaven?
2. Time Beyond Death
E. The Theme of Judgment in Life Beyond Death
F. Reincarnation

27. God Saves Us: Jesus Lived, Died and Rose to Save Us from Our Sins


Recommended Reading: A Selective Annotated Bibliography