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Cathi Kennedy reviews Nina Sophie Heereman's new book, noting that it was challenging to read but taught her to see Scripture in a new way.

I'll be honest. At first sight of the word "eschatological" in a book, I’m likely to check out mentally. I tend to think that I won’t understand the author’s point if a book is too scholarly. While reading Athirst for the Spirit by Nina Sophie Heereman, I often had to look up words in the dictionary, but it didn't dissuade me from reading. On the contrary, Heereman's intellectual theses helped me see familiar Scripture in a new way. 




Heereman, who earned a doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the École Biblique in Jerusalem, has compiled a book of many talks she’s given over several years. From the Holy Spirit-breathed vocation of Eve to the story of Queen Esther to the spiritual desert times that have always been since the time of Moses, Heereman takes Scripture and adds a depth of understanding I hadn't had before.  

In the first chapter, Heereman delves into the creation of Adam and Eve: a story that we all know by heart. God created Adam in His image and then formed Eve from a rib taken from Adam's side. Made as his partner, she is much more than that. Heereman quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1605 (emphasis by the author): 


"The woman, "flesh of his flesh," his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a "helpmate"; she thus represents God from whom comes our help." 


Heereman goes on to draw connections between the female archetypes (old and new Eve) and the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible with three themes: 1) women as helpers of men, 2) women as channels of wisdom, and 3) women as temples.   

In the chapter "Finding Consolation in the Book of Revelation," Heereman challenges my to-date understanding of this part of the Bible. 

[This book] constitutes an antidote to the temptation to confusion and doubt. Its symbolic language makes it very clear that the situation of those Christians suffering under the hostile Roman Empire typifies the situation of all Christians of all times. ... It is our own blood, mingled with the blood of the Lamb, and the faithful word of our testimony that will bring about the final defeat of humanity's archenemy. 


I had looked at the book of Revelation as a cautionary tale, a battle of good and evil. Heereman helped me see how victorious our fight will be. The most crucial victory: salvation through God.  

One last note: Sometimes (honestly, most times), I skip the acknowledgments in books. I implore you NOT to miss this one. It's a great story of how something that seems coincidental is God opening a path.  

Ask for Athirst for the Spirit at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from Amazon.com or the publisher, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.




Copyright 2023 Cathi Kennedy
Images: Canva
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