June 26, 2015

New book by editor emeritus focuses on Old Testament

By Mike Krokos

Cover of Introducing the Old Testament: An Overview of Its Contents and Its Message“Did you ever notice on ‘Jeopardy!’ that the Bible or the Old Testament is the last category chosen by the contestants? The people on that TV show are chosen because of their knowledge, but they realize their shortcomings when it comes to the Bible.”

So begins the introduction to author John F. Fink’s latest book, Introducing the Old Testament: An Overview of Its Contents and Its Message.

The book is published by St. Pauls, the publishing house operated by the Society of St. Paul, an international religious congregation of priests and brothers dedicated to serving the Church through the communications media.

The book’s contents will look familiar to Criterion readers because Fink, editor emeritus of the newspaper, penned a series of columns published on the same subject.

“I put them together in book form, and St. Pauls thought enough of it to publish it,” Fink said in an interview. “I hope that it will encourage Christians to read the Old Testament with the book as a guide, so they can see why the Old Testament remains important for Christians and how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament.”

The Catholic Bible has 46 books in the Old Testament, Fink noted, and the Pentateuch (which the Jews call the Torah) consists of the first five books. The Catholic Bible follows those books with 16 historical books, seven wisdom books and 18 prophetic books, and the author follows that arrangement.

“However, I do not have 46 chapters in this book,” he wrote. “I don’t have separate chapters for all of the Jewish minor prophets because I thought I should consider them in the context of Jewish history, and I tell about them there.”

Fink does have separate chapters on the major prophets, but they are inserted where they fit historically.

Fink’s commitment to the Catholic press goes back decades. He has been a staple at Catholic publications since 1948, even working part time while attending the University of Notre Dame and later serving in the Air Force for two years.

Introducing the Old Testament: An Overview of Its Contents and Its Message is the author’s 16th published book. Fink, who served as editor of The Criterion for 12 years, said his passion for the written word has not waned.

“When I left the editorship of The Criterion at the end of 1996, I was only 65. I said then that I had no intention of retiring, but that I left the job so I no longer had to go to meetings, keep a budget, or [deal with] personnel problems,” he said. “All I had to do was read and write, which is what I enjoyed doing. … I also had enough free time to write those books.”

More writing—and possibly even another book or two—may be part of the editor emeritus’ future plans.

“I haven’t decided yet whether I want to put my present series of columns, on the history of the Church, into book form,” Fink said. “I do have one book manuscript, American Catholic Heroes & Heroines, that I’ve been unable to sell to a publisher. Perhaps I’ll draw from that for my next series of columns.”

(Introducing the Old Testament: An Overview of Its Contents and Its Message, can be purchased for $12.95 at www.stpauls.us. For more information, call 800-343-2522.)

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