Joy to the World: How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (And Still Does), Scott Hahn
(Image, 2014), hb. 175 pp.
I really enjoyed this book where Scott Hahn expounds key texts related to the Christmas story. Hahn writes for a popular audience and provides clear exposition. Of course, in places his Catholic take on things (e.g., perpetual virginity of Mary) leads to places where I have serious disagreement, but overall this is an engaging and helpful book.
Hahn argues for the importance of the idea of family in the Christmas story and the entire flow of Scripture- “There is a family dimension to all the saving mysteries” (7). Specifically related to Christmas, Hahn writes:
“The Christmas story has an unconventional hero- not a warrior, not a worldly conqueror, not an individual at all, but rather a family” (8).
“When God came to save us, he made salvation inseparable from family life, manifest in family life” (9).
In contrast, “The evil king Herod is clearly anti-family, anti-child- murdering Bethlehem’s offspring, devouring them” (9).
Hahn is at his best connecting biblical texts, showing parallels to the OT story, historical background data and providing salient comments from authors in the ancient church. He argues throughout the ongoing impact of the Christmas event. “What happened in Bethlehem didn’t stay in Bethlehem. It changed the world. It changed history. It changed the very structure of the cosmos” (91).
I think he is right also in his closing call to evangelism through joy.
“We evangelize when we … enjoy celebrating the feasts- when we have ourselves a merry little Christmas, and invite others to share it. That’s the best way to evangelize friends, family, coworkers, and everybody else. Why? Because the world offers countless pleasures, but no lasting joys. What Jesus Christ gives is joy, even in the midst of hardship and sorrow- even amid persecution, flight, and exile” (166).