Sunday, December 28, 2014

Tim Staples' "Behold Your Mother" - Book Review

I have enjoyed listening to Tim Staples on Catholic Answers-Live and by CD for at least fifteen years now. His knowledge is encyclopedic and his sincere love for Scripture and those seeking answers reverberates in Tim's voice. Let me assure you, the same holds true for his writing. Of the sixty-some books I own focused on Marian belief and devotion, Behold Your Mother stands out as the most comprehensive, popularly-written apologetic among them.

Tim is a specialist at laying out the biblical basis of the Catholic Faith, and he puts that finely-honed skill to work answering every conceivable question a non-Catholic might have about our Marian beliefs: her identity as the Mother of God, mother of Christians, subject of prophecy, immaculate conception, perpetual virginity, role in our redemption, assumption into heaven, heavenly intercession, and queenship. He frequently enhances our understanding of pertinent biblical passages by taking us behind the English translation to the original Greek. He also provides documentation showing how Scripture was interpreted by its earliest readers - the ones closest in time to the apostles. 

Elements that (especially) stood out to me:
  • How belief in Mary's perpetual virginity acts as a safeguard to the sanctity in which we hold marriage, the sacraments, and religious life.
  • The number of errors (historical and present day) that stem from denying Mary the title "Mother of God"
  • In-depth analysis of the title "Full of Grace" (Kecharitomene in Greek)
  • The significance of Fathers and Doctors of the Church identifying both Christ's humanity and Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant
  • How Mary is revealed as the New Eve not just at the Annunciation, but at the Cross
  • The symmetry between the Holy Family's flight into Egypt and that of the Woman of Revelation 12 into the desert
  • 200 years before we had a New Testament canon, we have written testimony from Christians on three different continents that Mary was recognized as the New Eve
  • Why Romans 3:10 ("None is righteous, no, not one...") does not contradict belief in Mary's immaculate conception or sinlessness
  • What passages like Ruth 3:9, Ezek. 16:7-8, 2 Sam. 20:3, and Deut. 24:4 have to teach us about the non-conjugal nature of Joseph and Mary's marriage
  • How the annunciation witnesses to Mary's superiority to angels, in the order of grace
  • A plethora of verses showing how Christians are meant to cooperate with Christ in bringing salvation to others
  • A clear presentation of the Catholic Church's teaching that Mary remained a virgin, not just before and after the birth of Jesus, but in the very act of giving birth (in partu)
I have read theology for decades, but that last point was not brought to my attention until three years ago. Tim's is the most thorough discussion I have read on the subject, and it will leave you with no doubt that the miraculous nature both of Christ's conception and His birth are matters of Catholic Faith.

Behold Your Mother is an amazing resource, and I simply can't recommend it highly enough. If, in the future, the Lord Jesus grants my desire to write about the heart of His Mother, you will surely see Tim's work well represented in the footnotes!

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