Who would not relish the opportunity to read two-thousand-year-old letters? These four of the seven "catholic letters" are addressed not to any specific church, as are Paul's epistles, but to the church in general. Giving us valuable insights into early Christianity, they insist on the need to join good works with faith, present Jesus' sufferings as the model for enduring persecution and warn against intruders intent on undermining traditional faith and morals.
Far from being mere exercises in nostalgia for the "good ol' days," the letters offer principles that have not lost their value for the Church of the third millennium.
Patrick Hartin's clarity and conciseness update the Church's earliest struggles to remain faithful to the spirit of Jesus Christ. These are letters for us today, too.
Fr. Patrick J. Hartin, PhD, is professor of New Testament at Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington, and the author of the Sacra Pagina commentary on James and A Spirituality of Perfection: Faith in Action in the Letter of James, published by Liturgical Press.
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