60 Spirituality Studies 9-2 Fall 2023 Book Review Merton, Thomas. 2023. Notes on Genesis and Exodus: Novitiate Conferences on Scripture and Liturgy 2. Edited by Patrick F. O’Connell, foreword by Pauline A. Viviano. Cambridge, UK: The Lutterworth Press. In 1955, Thomas Merton became a novice master and, among other classes, gave lectures to the novices entitled A Monastic Introduction to Sacred Scripture. His notes, according to which he spoke to the novices about the first two books of the Old Testament – Genesis and Exodus, are preserved. This book is another in a series of posthumously published books of this well-known author, a Trappist monk who spent his monastic life at the Abbey of Gethsemani in the USA. The volume is edited by Patrick F. O’Connell, former president of the International Thomas Merton Society, who previously edited more than ten volumes from literary remains of Thomas Merton. The book was first published in 2021 by Cascade Books. The selected texts are made available here for the first time in a critical edition. The book includes an erudite extensive introduction as well as valuable indexes. As a Bible scholar Pauline Viviano writes in her foreword: “This edition of Thomas Merton’s class notes brings us into the workings of a great spiritual leader’s mind as he reflects upon Scripture… His audience consists of the novices at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, but all who are on a spiritual journey can gain from his insights and the lessons he draws from Scripture.” (Merton 2023, vii). The book’s publication is not intended to belatedly engage in the exegetical debates of biblical scholars. In addition to attempting to document in detail the formative monastic approaches specific to that time and making another valuable contribution to uncovering the personality of the contemplative giant Thomas Merton, the book can be a valuable inspiration to those who also seek in Scripture a deep understanding of the human person and his spiritual quest. Although Merton draws on contemporary insights from biblical theology, an important feature of his approach is a view of the first two books of the Old Testament that combines the biblical text with the introspective depth of his own monastic experience. Known for his profound spiritual insights inspired by traditional Christian spiritual writers as well as poetry, psychology, and Eastern religions, Merton does not disappoint when he delves into the stories of Genesis and Exodus and reveals their timeless wisdom and relevance. His notes show that he was quite familiar with the state of biblical scholarship within the Catholic Church at the time. For example, he distinguishes the different sources as distinct layers of the text of these books (the Yahwistic, Elohistic, Priestly, and Deuteronomistic sources). Merton does not bypass the literary sense, but more important for him is the spiritual sense. For he is concerned with introducing novices to the spir-

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