New Ancient Commentary
At the Lausanne Disputation in 1536, Protestants and Roman Catholics debated the doctrines of the Reformation in an attempt to decide the religious loyalties of the surrounding region. John Calvin, then only twenty-seven, was in attendance, but he largely remained silent, allowing other, more experienced Reformers to argue their case. At one point, a Roman priest accused the Reformers of holding the teaching of the church fathers in low esteem, since that teaching overwhelmingly contradicted Protestant doctrines. At that, Calvin stood and began quoting a long series of church fathers from memory. He concluded by arguing that the only way the priest could make such an accusation was if he himself was ignorant of the fathers.
While Calvin may have been able to refute the accusation of patristic ignorance, subsequent generations of Protestants have indeed become increasingly ignorant of the fathers, their teachings, and their interpretations of the Bible. Recent years have seen a variety of efforts among Protestants to correct that. Some have sought to establish meaningful dialogue with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. See, for example, the recently released Counterpoint book on whether Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism are compatible.
Another effort to increase awareness of the church fathers can be seen in resources designed to make their writings more accessible. Among these is the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series by InterVarsity Press. This series of commentaries provides interpretative comments from various church fathers for each book of the Old and New Testaments, as well as most of the apocrypha. We've offered a partial edition of this commentary for several years now, but we're pleased to announce that the complete series is now available as a single Accordance module. That's twenty-eight volumes of commentary spanning the first seven centuries of church history.
Most commentaries are written by a single author who seeks to explain the meaning of one or more Bible books. The ACCS is different. It does not give a systematic exposition by a single commentator, but juxtaposes the insights of a variety of interpreters. Reading it is like attending a group Bible study and listening to the interplay of different perspectives: philosophical, pastoral, applicational, polemical, and sometimes a little obscure. Reading the ACCS typically makes me want to think more deeply about the passage I'm studying, which is especially helpful after I've done the work of exegeting a passage myself and then consulting more expositional commentaries. The challenge after all that study is to avoid looking at the passage like a scientist looks at a bug under glass, and the ACCS can help you recapture some of the beauty and mystery of each passage.