by Patrick C. Guinan M.D.
Faculty Member of University of Illinois, Chicago Campus
Past President of the Catholic Physicians Guild of Chicago
Writer, Linacre Quarterly, Journal of the Catholic Medical Association
Saturday, July 17, 2004
LETTERS TO LUKE, from his fellow physician, Joseph of Capernaum by Joe E. Holoubek, MD Little Dove Press, Shreveport, LA. 2004, 547 pages
The book is a recounting of the Gospel stories through the eyes of a physician who lived and practiced in Palestine during the first century AD. “Letters to Luke” is a series of 148 letters written by Joseph, a doctor residing in Capernaum, Galilee, to his friend Luke, another doctor who subsequently becomes Luke the Evangelist. The letters describe Joseph’s life as a physician and how he and his wife, Elisa (also a physician), came to know Jesus. The setting is in Palestine during the public ministry of Christ, and the letters describe in detail His public ministry, death and resurrection.
“Letters to Luke” is really several stories. It is a description of village life, as well as medical education and practice in the first century AD. It is secondly a synthesis, with careful integration of both Old and New Testament accounts, of the public life of Christ. It is next the story of how a doctor describes and reacts to his developing knowledge of the Messiah. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is an autobiography of a remarkable physician and Catholic, Dr. Joe E. Holoubek, and his wife, Dr. Alice Holoubek.
Dr. Holoubek is an outstanding physician, teacher, Catholic and, as “Letters to Luke” demonstrates, writer. His writing style is direct and to the point. The flow of the narration makes for absorbing reading.
One must, at this point, mention the key role his wife, Alice Baker Holoubek (after whom Elisa is modeled), who is also a physician and scholar, and without whom this book would never have come to be, plays in the story and in Dr. Joe’s life.
Dr. Holoubek, after medical school, a fellowship, and five years in the Army settled in Shreveport, La, where he and Alice practiced medicine for 45 years. Dr. Holoubek has been active as a medical scholar and writer, Catholic layman and, in particular, as an organizing force in the Catholic Medical Association, being that organization’s president in 1961-1963.
Not only is “Letters to Luke” an outstanding example of devotional reading about the life of Christ, but at a deeper level it is the love story of Dr. Holoubek for his wife, as portrayed in the lives of Joseph of Capernaum and his wife Elisa.
In summary, this is a remarkably good book on several levels and a fitting tribute to a great physician, husband, and writer. It is a fine narrative about the life of Christ. It is also, at another level, the love stories of Dr. Holoubek for both Christ as well as his wife.
“Letters to Luke” includes as endnotes biblical references, for each Old and New Testament citation. It also includes eight pages of bibliography and indices.
It should be noted that, while “Letters to Luke” is a bit on the expensive side ($39.95), it is a handsome book with a fixed bookmark and well worth an honored place in your library.