Learning from the Epistle to the Hebrews: A Review

I’ll begin with a disclaimer that Shane Kapler is a dear friend, a co-author at times, and, that while he labored on this book of the signs and gifts of the Jews, of faith, revelation, and divine law, I was working away on a complementary companion volume on the wisdom of the Greeks, reason, virtue, and natural law. After all, “the Jews require signs and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:22), the Catholic Church passes down to us both the holiest signs of revelation and the most succulent fruits of wisdom, and the world needs both today perhaps like never before.  Having declaimed that disclaimer, I will hope that my in-depth knowledge of this book’s author and this book will not disqualify me from telling you a little bit about it and whetting your appetite for it.

“In this small book lies an education.” In that small sentence from Dr. Kenneth Howell’s foreword lies the gist of this book.  Our word education derives from the Latin educare, “to draw out what lies within,” and it boggles the mind and inspires the heart to read what Shane has drawn out from the Epistle to the Hebrews.  In my Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, this letter takes up about 10 pages. Shane’s treatment is more than a dozen times in length without one wasted word.  Drawing on the wisdom of other books of the Scriptures, writings of the Church Fathers and Doctors, the teachings of the popes and the holy Magisterium (teaching authority of the Catholic Church), along with a host of modern theological writers, Shane Kapler presents this epistle as a powerful primer of seven core beliefs held in some manner, though perhaps perceived dimly, by all who belong to the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.

Here, from the thirteen chapters of the Letter to the Hebrews, Shane mines profound and moving lesions on the Trinity (Hebrews chapters 1-3), the Incarnation (chs. 2-5), the Word of God (chs. 4-6), Christ’s Priesthood, Our Salvation, (chs. 7-11), the Communion of Saints (chs. 11 -12 ), the Eucharist (chs. 13), and the Authority of the Church’s Leaders (ch. 13).  Indeed, this book is an engrossing catechism, a work of apologetics, and a spiritual guide all at once.

Shane was able to accomplish so much so well because he has been immersed in the study of the Letter to the Hebrews for decades.  The Jewish roots of our faith played a role in his own conversion story in his teens, he would go on in early adulthood to teach Bible studies on this epistle, and it has never left his thoughts, impressing its stamp upon him like a holy scriptural seal.

After a powerful foreword by Dr. Howell and  preface by Jared Zimmerer, Shane invites us to pull out our Bibles and take a few minutes to read the Epistle to the Hebrews. (You’ll find it nestled in between the Epistle of Paul to Philemon and the Epistle of James.) I would advise you to do the same, and then to open up Shane’s book as he opens up that epistle in ways many might never have imagined!

Here you will find the true depth and beauty of that brief epistle, interweaved with all the prefigurements and prophecies of the Old Testament and the illuminative lessons of the New Testament too, as handed down by Tradition and the teaching office of the Catholic Church.  The writing style is both elegant and accessible. The book is rich in scholarly erudition and argument, but presented so plainly and earnestly that the reader will grow not only in knowledge of the faith, but in the love of God and the Church he left to guide and support us as we travel on earth on our journey toward heaven.

Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews shared incredible wisdom with us.  I pray that He will guide you as well to the gift of faith and love that is Shane Kapler’s The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Seven Core Beliefs of Catholics (Angelico Press, 2016).

Dr. Kevin Vost

By

Dr. Kevin Vost, Psy D. is the author of Memorize the Faith, The Seven Deadly Sins, The One Minute Aquinasas well as numerous other books and articles. He has taught psychology at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Lincoln Land Community College, and MacMurray College. He is a Research Review Committee Member for American Mensa, which promotes the scientific study of human intelligence. You can find him at drvost.com.

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