Book Review: Theology of the Priesthood by Jean Galot


Galot, Theology of the PriesthoodFor our upcoming class on the Theology of Holy Orders, we are required to read large portions of Father Jean Galot’s Theology of the Priesthood. Since the Kindle edition was less expensive and more readily available, I bought that copy rather than the print edition. However, since the Kindle edition has no page numbers, I decided to read the whole book so as not to accidentally miss any of what I was supposed to read and because I had heard great things about it. Here then is a short book review which I wrote about this work of Father Galot’s, originally published on Goodreads, where I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

I found Father Galot’s treatment of the priesthood to be very cogent and comprehensive. While the first parts include, in my estimation, a bit of eisegesis (reading into Scripture), I find most of his work with Scripture to be good exegesis. (I’m kind of a stickler about Biblical interpretation, so the eisegesis is why I gave 4 rather than 5 stars. At the same time, when he wrote this book, Father Galot was a lot older and a lot smarter than me, so I admit that I could be missing something.)

At any rate, Father Galot is not only doing exegesis, but also theology; he’s asking what the Scriptures actually mean (exegesis), then drawing logical implications therefrom. This is doing theology well–rooted in Revelation and using God-given reason to understand what that Revelation means, especially what it means for us today.

The core point which I drew from the work (which I think truly is the main point) is that, to learn about the priesthood, we must always go back to Jesus the great High Priest in whom every priest participates. If our thoughts about priesthood are based more on our own predispositions than the Revelation of God through His Eternal Word, then we will most certainly go astray. At the same time, if we want to delve deeper into priestly identity (both intellectually and spiritually), we must meditate deeply on Jesus and allow His Mystery to penetrate our hearts. This goes for the lay person who shares in the Common Priesthood, for the Priest who shares in the Ministerial Priesthood, and for the lay person who, in exercising his Common Priesthood, might better receive the shepherding of the Ministerial Priest.

All in all, this is a fantastic book which I highly recommend to one who wants to read a deeply rich and deeply Scriptural understanding of the being of the priest (from which his “doing” flows). It is not unattainably challenging, but is also not terribly easy to read. I would estimate it to be at about the reading level of an early college student. If one wants a very practical treatment which emphasizes the “doings” of the priest (though also recognizing the importance of the priest’s “being”), I recommend Priests for the Third Millennium by Timothy Cardinal Dolan.