Anthony Esolen and the Antichrist

Jan 14, 2022 by

by Dwight Longenecker, The Imaginative Conservative:

Anthony Esolen counters the antichrist by giving us a profound and moving meditation on the true Christ. If you were swamped with all the frippery and foolishness of a commercialized Christmas, take up Professor Esolen’s book and plunge into the depths of the mystery of the incarnation of Christ the Lord.

It was apt that on the seventh day of the Christmas octave that I should pick up Anthony Esolen’s new book, In the Beginning Was the Word – An Annotated Reading of the Prologue of John. Apt because Prof. Esolen’s book is a word-by-word dissection of those famous eighteen verses that expound the mystery of the incarnation, and those eighteen verses are read at Mass on this seventh day of the Christmas octave.

The solemn declaration of the incarnation, as Prof. Esolen describes, is a kind of incantation of the incarnation. It is a complex poem, a dance in which the enfleshment of the perichoresis of the Holy Trinity is announced, so if those eighteen verses are an incantation of the incarnation, they are also an annunciation of the incarnation—a hymn to the mystery of the Father’s love begotten. Indeed the prologue is a kind of verbal dance in which the complex of ideas which compose the essence of reality are intertwined in a solemn roundelay.

Am I being obtuse? I apologize, but I am attempting to hint at the complex beauty of Prof. Esolen’s scholarly exegesis—an exegesis that is itself poetic as one would expect from this linguist and translator of Dante. To put it simply, Prof. Esolen’s book is a paean of praise to the evangelist and his theme. It is an exposition of the incarnation and a reminder that this truth is the kernel and the cornerstone of the Christian faith.

With this in mind, it is with a complementary beauty that the epistle for the Mass on the seventh day of the Christmas octave is also taken from the writings of the beloved disciple. In the second chapter of his first epistle Saint John writes,

Read here


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