Origins of Catholic Christianity-Great Book Series

I collect books.  A lot of them.  In addition to the books I need for school, and books in my favorite genres of fiction (dystopian fiction and science fiction) I have practically a library of books on topics related to religion, including Mormonism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Evangelical Christianity, Islam, Neo-Paganism, and general historical-scholarly Christian works.  Sometimes I peruse Amazon in what little spare time I have to see what books I can buy.  What can I say, I’m a nerd!

So as I was browsing through the offerings on Amazon, I happened upon the “Origins of Catholic Christianity” book series by Taylor Marshall, PhD, a former Episcopal Church (the American branch of the 85 million member Anglican Communion) priest that converted to the Catholic Church.  He gives his academic credentials as:

“I earned a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Dallas. I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation titled: “Thomas Aquinas on Natural Law and the Twofold Beatitude of Humanity.” (I’m looking for a publisher for it, if you know anyone.) I’m a rocked-ribbed Thomist and I believe that Thomism is at the heart of everything great in Catholic culture.

I am also a graduate of Texas A&M University (BA, Philosophy – Whooop!), Westminster Theological Seminary (MAR, Systematic Theology), Nashotah Theological House (Certificate in Anglican Studies), and the University of Dallas (MA, Philosophy)”

The first of his books in the Series that I found was “The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity“.  This is a topic that is always fascinating to me.  Many Latter-day Saint apologists and scholars seek to connect the unique aspects of Mormonism to ancient Israelite beliefs and practices.  Whether it’s the temple and the temple Endowment, events in the Book of Mormon, an embodied God (i.e. the LDS belief that God the Father has a body of flesh and bone), the importance of covenants, Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, etc, they seek to point out where Mormonism is in direct continuity with ancient Judaism, which is especially important when we understand how Latter-day Saints view the concept of Apostasy and Restoration, believing that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is as old as Adam, and that Jesus Christ in the New Testament wasn’t necessarily establishing something new, but was re-establishing His Church and Gospel.

So, when I looked at the Table of Contents of The Crucified Rabbi, I knew I immediately had to purchase the book for Kindle (I blame the invention of Kindle for my lack of productivity).  Dr. Marshall clearly aims to demonstrate the continuity of the Catholic faith, and many of its unique beliefs and practices, with ancient Judaism, including the knowledge that we gain from the Deuterocanonical texts that are part of the Catholic/Orthodox Bibles, and not found in the Protestant versions (including the King James Version read by Latter-day Saints) nor the latest Jewish canon, as well as other ancient Judeo-Christian sources.

In the Introduction to the book, titled “How I Discovered the Jewish Origins of Catholicism”, essentially giving an overview of his conversion to Catholicism after being a priest in another faith, Dr. Marshall recounts an experience he had talking with a Rabbi in a hospital waiting room (Dr. Marshall was visiting someone as a priest), who told him that Jews believe that “if someone is suffering and you invoke the name of his or her mother in prayer, God will be more merciful in granting your prayer for that person“.  Dr. Marshall then goes on to make a connection with the Catholic veneration of the Virgin Mary, and goes on from there:

If Jews believed that invoking the mother of someone caused God to be more gracious in answering an intercession, then wouldn’t the name of Mary be worth invoking?  Even more, Mary wasn’t just an ordinary mother.  She was the only person ever created who could speak to God about our Son.  That’s when it hit me.  Catholic devotion to Mary is not merely based on sound Christological arguments.  Veneration for the Blessed Mother is not just only in the writings of the early Church.  Reaching back even further, the Church reveres and invokes the Blessed Mother because it inherited the Jewish custom of showing profound reverence for the spiritual role of the mother in a family.  The rabbi’s answer was a surprising confirmation that Catholic customs are rooted in a Jewish understanding of reality.

This experience opened up an entirely new way of appreciating Christianity, that is to say Catholic Christianity.  I soon learned that Orthodox Jews pray for the dead-as do Catholics.  Jews have a special ark in their synagogues to house the Word of God.  Catholics have a special tabernacle in their churches to house the Word of God made flesh in the Eucharist.  All of the fascinating elements of the Old Testament-the liturgies, the holy days, the vestments, the lamps, the vows, the rituals-all of these were preserved or transformed in the sacramental economy of the Catholic Church. 

The following year I renounced the ordination that I had received in the Episcopal Church after a considerable amount of prayer, study, and counsel.  The Episcopal Church possessed many ancient elements and practices, but I came to see that the Anglican schism of the sixteenth century, and the Protestant Reformation in general, did not reflect the original trajectory of the New Testament.  I came to believe that the Church is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the People of God.  In the Old Testament, the People of Israel were not free to create a “new Israel” or to form a new denomination of “Protestant Israelites.”  No matter how corrupt the priests, the high priests, and the kings of Judah became, the covenant of God remained in effect.

My wife and I entered into full communion with the Catholic Church on May 23, 2006, along with our four children.  I became a Catholic Christian because I realized that the Catholic Church alone could trace her doctrine, liturgy, customs, and morality back to those Jewish beginnings when a rabbi named Jesus roamed the Holy Land with a band of Jewish disciples.  As a Catholic Christian, I am linked not only to the early Church, but also to the ancient tradition of the Old Testament.  I can now say with the Apostle Paul (who was once Rabbi Saul): I share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all.-Romans 4:16.”

Talk about a powerful testimony!  Looking at his other books, I see that they similarly aim to demonstrate the authenticity of the Catholic faith as the fulness of true Christianity, consistent with not only the Biblical records, but with history (and therefore his books are great for those looking to see how an Apostasy is simply untenable, not supported by the Bible nor history, and that the Catholic Church is in continuity not only with the New Testament Church, since it is that Church, but also with ancient Judaism).  I encourage anyone interested in this topic to take a look at his books!  Here they are:

The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity

Praise for The Crucified Rabbi:


“Taylor Marshall helps us to be more Catholic by taking our faith to its most profound depths – its ancient roots in the religion of Israel, the Judaism beloved by the Apostles, the religion of the Temple and Synagogue, the Torah and the sacrifice. Jesus said he came not to abolish that faith but to fulfill it. In this book, we see that fullness down to the smallest details. I treasure this book.” -Mike Aquilina, author of The Fathers of the Church 
“Such sparkling insights appear on almost every page, as Taylor Marshall deftly compares various features of Judaism to their Catholic counterparts: the priesthood, vestments, holy days, marriage, and saints, to name but a few. Saint Augustine’s dictum, “The New Covenant is in the Old, concealed; the Old Covenant is in the New, revealed” is on full display inThe Crucified Rabbi.” -Cale Clarke, Catholic Insight Magazine 
“This is a fascinating book full of interesting details. The Crucified Rabbi should be required reading for every student of the Catholic faith.” -Father Dwight Longenecker, author of Mary: A Catholic/Evangelical Debate 
  • How does Jesus fulfill over three hundred Old Testament Prophecies? {over 300 Hebrew prophecies of Christ and the Church listed inside this book}
  • Is Catholicism inherently Anti-Semitic? Do the Hebrew Scriptures accurately predict Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah?
  • How does Jewish thinking presuppose devotion to Mary?
  • Is the Catholic Church a fulfillment of historic Israel?
  • How do Jewish water rituals relate to Catholic baptism?
  • Is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass a Passover meal?
  • Should the Catholic priesthood conform to the priesthood established by Moses?
  • How has the Jewish Temple influenced traditional Christian architecture?
  • Does the Pope wear a yarmulke?

Chapters and Sub-Chapters I find interesting:

  • Does the Pope Wear a Yarmulke?
  • Jewish Messiah, Catholic Christ (The Old Covenant “Proto-Gospel”)
  • Jewish Kingdom, Catholic Church (Mary as the Queen Mother of Jerusalem, The Pope as the King’s Royal Steward)
  • Jewish Tevilah, Catholic Baptism (all Sub-Chapters, especially Is Baptism a Ceremonial Washing, and Catholic Baptism as the Tevilah for Original Sin
  • Jewish Passover, Catholic Mass (all Sub-Chapters, especially What is Manna? and The Bread of Life, the Eucharist)
  • Jewish Kohenim, Catholic Priests (all Sub-Chapters, especially Christ the High Priest, The Order of Melchizedek (obviously interesting for those following this blog!), The Catholic Priesthood of the New Covenant, Is the Pope a High Priest?)
  • Jewish Vestments, Catholic Vestments
  • Jewish Temple, Catholic Cathedral (all Sub-Chapters, demonstrating how Catholic cathedrals are in continuity with the OT Temples)
  • Jewish Synagogue, Catholic Parish (Structure of the Synagogue, Structure of the Catholic Parish)
  • Jewish Nazirites, Catholic Monastics (The Nazirite Vow, Christian Monasticism, Liturgy of the Hours and Jewish Prayer, Was Jesus a Nazirite?)
  • Jewish Marriage, Catholic Marriage
  • Jewish Holy Days, Catholic Holy Days
  • Jewish Tzaddikim, Catholic Saints (Heavenly Intercession of the Saints)
  • Jewish Afterlife, Catholic Afterlife

The Catholic Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Origins of Catholic Christianity

“If you’re looking for a complete and simple Catholic resource to equip you to answer your Protestant friends about salvation, faith and works, baptism, the Eucharist, the sacraments, the priesthood, celibacy, and redemptive suffering, then this new book is for you.

This book intends to show once and for all that Saint Paul was thoroughly Catholic, and that Protestant and liberal prejudices against the Catholic perspective on Paul are unwarranted. If we read Paul in his own words, we find none other than the great Catholic Apostle of Rome. “
  • How did Paul’s background as a Jewish rabbi inform his message?
  • Did Paul hold that we are justified by faith alone?
  • Did Paul teach baptismal regeneration?
  • Did Paul hold that one might “fall from grace”?
  • Did Paul consider himself to be a “priest”?
  • Did Paul believe that the Church was one, holy, catholic, and apostolic?

Chapters and Sub-chapters I find interesting:

  • Rabbi Saul and the Apostle Paul (Paul’s Doctrine of Participation in Christ, How Are We Saved by Grace?)
  • Paul on the Catholic Church (The Church is One, The Church is Holy, The Church is Catholic, The Church is Apostolic)
  • Paul on Justification, Faith, and Works (all sub-chapters)
  • Paul on Baptism and Regeneration (Infant Baptism)
  • Paul on Falling from Grace and Reconciliation (Confession as the Ministry of Reconciliation)
  • Paul on Purgatory And Prayer for the Dead (Post-mortem Purgation, Eternal Punishment and Temporal Punishment, Praying for the Dead)
  • Paul on the Eucharistic Sacrifice (What Does Eucharist Mean?, Eucharistic Sacrifice, The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Christ Our Passover)
  • Paul on the Priesthood (The One Priesthood of Christ: Two Participations, The Sacrament of Holy Orders, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, Calling Priests “Father”, Spiritual Fatherhood, Paul and Celibacy)
  • Paul on Holy Matrimony as Sacrament (Marriage as an Icon of Christ with the Church)
  • Paul on Human Sexuality
  • Paul on the Communion of Saints (Mystic Sweet Communion, One Body, Many Members, Veneration of the Saints and Relics, What About the Virgin Mary?)
  • The Martyrdom and Death of Paul (The Problem of Pain, Knowing Christ Crucified, Saint Paul’s Martyrdom in Rome)

The Eternal City: Rome & the Origins of Catholic Christianity

“Read this book if you have ever wondered why the Catholic Church specifically claims to be Roman? It would seem that the Church of Jesus Christ would be centered in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jews, since Christ died and rose again in Jerusalem. Catholic theologian Taylor Marshall, Ph.D. provides a layman’s account of how Christ chose the Rome as an instrument of redemption for the nations. Beginning with the Old Testament prophets, Dr. Marshall explains how the Messiah would come and assume reign over the nations through the Roman Empire. This book provides an exciting and popular account establishing Rome as ‘the Eternal City’ of Christ the King.”

  • If Christ was crucified and rose again in Jerusalem, why is the Kingdom of God manifested as the Roman Catholic Church?
  • How does the Bible foretell the Roman Catholic Church?
  • Was Christ truly born on December 25?
  • What is the significance of Christ being crucified on a Roman cross?
  • Was Saint Peter the first Pope of Rome?
  • Has Saint Peter’s body been found underneath the Vatican?
  • How does the Book of Revelation relate to Rome and the Antichrist?

What are the Biblical and theological reasons for the Church being Roman?  Dr. Taylor Marshall explains why the Jewish prophets and apostles expected Christ to vanquish Rome and recast Rome as the Eternal City-the earthly seat for the Vicar of Christ.

Chapters and Sub-Chapters I find interesting:

  • Daniel Foretells the Roman Church (The Four Kingdoms in Detail, The Fourth Beast and the Son of Man)
  • Hanukkah and the Jewish-Roman Alliance
  • The Birth of Christ under Caesar
  • Crucified Under Pontius Pilate
  • Did Peter Establish the Church of Rome? (The Church Infiltrates Rome, The Church Fathers on Peter in Rome)
  • The Tomb of Saint Peter in Rome (The City of the Dead, Did They Find Saint Peter Beneath the High Altar?)
  • The First Five Popes of Rome
  • Rome Destroys Jerusalem
  • Constantine as Caesar Rendered Unto God (Constantine the Great or Not-So-Great?, The Catacombs)
  • City of Man or City of God? (The Fall of Rome, St. Augustine’s The City of God, Jerusalem vs Hierosolym, Is Rome Now Irrelevant?)



Is The Prophet a Prophet?-Two Interesting Articles

Recently, I participated in a discussion on a message board about whether The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is really led by “living prophets” that function in the same way that the Biblical prophets, that Latter-day Saints tend to compare them to, did.  This topic is always interesting to me, especially because the concept of having “living prophets”, prophets just like Moses, Abraham, Noah, Isaiah, Paul, etc, sounds attractive, and implies a continuity  with the prophetic calling of the various Biblical prophets.  I particularly loved reading the phrase “living oracles”, as the word “oracle” particularly implies that these men are more than just everyday men that receive inspiration from God just like everyone else is able to.

When I would embrace my duties as a “member missionary“, I would almost always bring up the subject of having prophets and apostles, and how these were found in the Bible, and then disappeared, but now, through the Restoration, we have living prophets and apostles that guide God’s people, receiving Divine revelation, just like they did anciently.   I remember one conversation when the person I was talking to asked what the latest revelation was.  I wasn’t sure if I should bring up the issue of the priesthood restriction and how in 1978, the Prophet receive revelation from God to allow all worthy males to be ordained to the priesthood, when previously, blacks were restricted from ordination.  Somehow, being an African American, talking to another African American, it seemed as if bringing that up wouldn’t be conducive to my member missionary work (and indeed, another friend at a later time did his own research, found out about the priesthood restriction, read the various negative and racist statements various leaders made during that time, and was turned off).  So, I thought, and thought, and thought, and wasn’t sure what I should bring up as the latest revelation the Prophet received, that demonstrated his prophetic calling as distinct from the [non-prophet] leaders of other Christian Churches.  I could bring up building more, smaller temples, or the lowering of the missionary ages, or the Family: A Proclamation to the World, yet none of those had a recorded revelation in the same way that we have in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the latter day revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants (and even with the priesthood restriction, there is no recorded revelation of the Lord speaking to His prophet, in the same way that we read in the rest of the D&C; there’s only an Official Declaration that says that a revelation was received), and didn’t really seem on par with the Biblical revelations and guidance received by the prophets, nor even on par with the experiences of Joseph Smith, recorded in the D&C.

It was this conversation that really got me thinking about the 15 men we sustained as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, and whether they really functioned as prophets, seers, and revelators, and were on par with Abraham, Moses, Noah, Malachi, Paul, etc, or whether they were no different than the leaders of other Christian Churches.

Rewinding back to the discussion I was having recently online, I happened upon two articles written at Zomarah’s blog, and found them very well written and expressed the viewpoint I came to hold, and a viewpoint that probably many Latter-day Saints have on their living prophets.  Here are links to them:

Thomas S. Monson: A Seer, A Revelator, a Translator, and a Prophet

Silent Revelations

So, I’m sure that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are well meaning men, who believe they are inspired in their duties, just like how most Christians believe they can receive inspiration from God to guide them.  I don’t ascribe any ill-will to them, however I really wonder how the “living prophets” claim is really something that provides something different than what can be found in other Churches, something different that resulted from the Restoration.  I believe I have my answer, hence why I reverted back to the Catholic Church, which believes that, although the Pope and the College/Council of Bishops are certainly guided by the Holy Spirit in guiding the Church, preventing doctrinal error and innovation, teaching God’s children by the Spirit, etc, that the Holy Spirit guides the unfolding understanding of the Deposit of Faith given anciently, and that when they gather in Council, the proceedings and conclusions are Spirit-inspired, we don’t necessarily believe that they are prophets, though God has called various men and women throughout Catholic history to be prophets, and prophetesses, who have received visions and visitations from Heaven, some including warnings and prophecies about the future, including the various popular visitations of Mary, and that many of these prophetic events have resulted in miracles, such as Lourdes Water from a spring in France.  These people had and have demonstrable prophetic encounters and abilities, and really are fascinating to me, especially in comparison to the leaders sustained by Latter-day Saints as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, 15 of them.