The often-wide gap between the theological and the pastoral is a hindrance to all forms of ministry. This leads to the stereotype of the ivory tower academic. So, when an internationally respected church historian and theologian like Ashley Null writes a liturgical season’s worth of pastoral meditations, a healthy level of skepticism about its usefulness is understandable. What Dr. Null has done, however, is combine his top-notch research on Thomas Cranmer with a great level of pastoral concern and produced Eastertide: A Walk Through the Feast of the Resurrection with Thomas Cranmer.
The meditations lead the reader through the season of Eastertide, using the readings and collects from Cranmer’s theologically mature 1552 Book of Common Prayer as jumping off points. Those who have read Dr. Null in the past will recognize echoes, and at times word-for-word repetitions, of some of his previous works, especially on “Cranmer’s Comfortable Words.” He has done remarkable work sharing about the Archbishop of Canterbury and English reformer who is one of church history’s best examples of a pastoral theologian. But one need not be familiar with Dr. Null’s work, or even Thomas Cranmer, to appreciate and benefit from Eastertide. Each daily meditation is only two pages long but penetrates mind and soul to bring the reader to a greater appreciation of the work of Christ and how we might benefit from it.
The only weakness of this book was not within Dr. Null’s control. The book is sold in two versions. Single copies are sold as “premium paperbacks” while cheaper “economy editions” are sold in packs of five. The book I reviewed was one of the “premium paperbacks” but has the look and feel of a self-published book. A number of typos are littered throughout the book and the endnote numbers distractingly change size from small superscripts to full size text throughout the book. A valuable resource like this deserves a better copy editor.