In two months my book Who is Jesus Christ? Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew will be published by Our Sunday Visitor. A number of people have asked me where the idea for the book came from and why I ended up writing it.
Who is Jesus Christ? is the result of a personal bible study I did three years ago. In the summer of 2007, I was reading Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict, as well as a book on Origen, the first great Scripture scholar of the Church. In the Origen book, the author noted that Origen loved to contemplate the titles given to Jesus, such as “Son of God,” “Teacher,” and “Emmanuel.” He would meditate on these titles over and over and this would allow him to know Christ better. Our Lord is like a diamond which can be appreciated from a multitude of angles, each one deepening our love for different aspects of his person and work.
I thought this type of study sounded like a great idea, so I decided to start by meditating on the titles in Matthew, my favorite Gospel. I first found the twenty-five titles given to him in this Gospel and then reflected on them in light of their immediate context in Matthew’s Gospel, as well as the rest of Scripture and then also in the Church Fathers and the Church’s teachings through the centuries. I had no desire to invent my own meanings to these titles, but instead wished to see how those who came before us in the Faith understood them. I took notes along the way so that I could more deeply integrate what I was discovering.
Although I never directly used Jesus of Nazareth in my research, I found that my whole outlook was impacted by the Pope’s book, and by his other works on Jesus Christ and Scripture. After a month or two of study I was becoming more and more consumed with this project when my wife took the kids on a trip to visit family in Ohio. While they were away, I used all my free hours researching the titles of Christ in Matthew, and by the time I was finished I had compiled over 100 pages of handwritten notes.
It was at this time I began to think that this study might be useful to others and that it might make a good book. Of course, it is a big leap from personal study notes to a finished book, but I really believed that others could profit from my work and draw closer to Christ through it. So I began the slow process of “translating” the content of my notes to a readable format (with the immense help of my wife, the greatest editor on earth) and after two more years I had the book completed. Now I hope and pray that others will come to know Christ more deeply through this book as I did researching and writing it.
Who is Jesus Christ? Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew will be published in September, although you can pre-order it now through Amazon or my own website.