“History is the depository of great actions, the witness of what is past, the example and instructor of the present, and monitor to the future.”
—Miguel de Cervantes (as quoted in Many Thoughts of Many Minds)
If you are a student of church history or merely someone who appreciates dead authors over live ones, we are introducing two titles today that will aid you in your study of the past.
Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers
“Any consensus in theology today begins with the rejection of the classical Christian tradition as this is generally known in Western Culture.”
William J. Abraham, “Oh God, Poor God—The State of Contemporary Theology,” The Reformed Journal 40, no. 2 (February 1990): 19.
The quotation above can be found at the very beginning of chapter 2 in Christopher Hall’s Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers and sums up much of the state of contemporary hermeneutics. I confess that for many years, I, too, was proponent of this modern prejudice against the past as I used to consider any historical understanding of Scripture to be inferior to modern interpretation methods. That has changed for me over time, though, and I have come to appreciate the insights of Tradition—especially that of the Early Church—as a voice in biblical study that should not be ignored.
Christopher Hall centers this title around “eight great doctors or preeminent teachers of the church: Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great and John Chrysostom in the East; Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine and Gregory the Great in the West.” Although this list leaves out other significant figures in the Early Church, these eight individuals are representative enough, though, to give the reader an understanding of how the Church Fathers viewed and interpreted the Bible.
This title is meant to be both introductory to the hermeneutical methods of the Early Church as well as a corrective to the modern perspective that believes ancient church writings are beneficial perhaps only for devotional thought. I have found that most people in today’s church either ignore Christian history or are simply ignorant of it all together. In the Protestant circles of which I am part, if history is appreciated at all it seems to suggest that there is no history of importance before the Reformation. And yet even in light of Reformation principles such as sola scriptura, Hall notes that “Reformers such as Luther and Calvin wisely considered the history, councils, creeds and tradition of the church, including the fathers’ writings, as a rich resource ignored only by the foolish or arrogant.” I heartily agree and recommend this title to you if you wish to incorporate the voices of the Early Church in your Bible study or already do so.
Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers is the initial title in a projected four-volume set. This volume joins Learning Theology with the Church Fathers and Worshiping with the Church Fathers, already part of the Accordance Bible Software Library. The not-yet-published fourth volume is tentatively titled Ethical Living with the Church Fathers.
Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers
Regular Price $15.90
IVP Christian Fathers Bundle
For those interested in the Early Church Fathers,
save $200 on the new Accordance IVP Christian Fathers Bundle.
List Price $1,015
Regular Price $899
A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers
Any seminary student who has pursued biblical Greek studies past the required courses of the degree program eventually desires to expand his or her studies beyond merely the Koine of the New Testament. This can lead in one direction to a study of the Septuagint and in the other, a study of Early Church writings. A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers seeks to supplement study that goes in the latter direction.
In recent years, a number of “Reader’s Editions” of the Greek New Testament have emerged from various publishers that offer help to students who are learning to read New Testament Greek. In place of a textual apparatus, these editions usually include on each page a list of Greek words that appear 50 or fewer times arranged by the verses immediately before the reader. It is assumed that the reader will be familiar with words occurring more often than the words included in the help, so that with previously acquired knowledge and a little bit of help from the glosses at the bottom of the page, the reader can successfully translate any text in the New Testament.
Dan Wallace’s new Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers is designed to offer this kind of help to the person wanting to read the writings of the Early Church that most closely followed after the writing of the New Testament. Included in this lexicon is a verse-by-verse alphabetic listing of each word occuring 30 times or fewer in the New Testament. Although the print edition would certainly be an adequate help for anyone reading the Apostolic Fathers, this kind of tool takes on significantly greater usefulness in Accordance!
In Accordance, the Reader’s Lexicon can be placed in parallel with the Apostolic Fathers text, specifically the edition edited by Michael Holmes, for which this work was designed to be used. In Accordance, text and lexicon scroll together, a feature that gives immediate advantage over the print editions which at best would place two books side by side on a desk for reference.
Moreover, Accordance allows for even greater usefulness regarding the numbers that appear beside each word. As explained in the preface, “The first number indicates how many times the word appears in that book. The last number indicates how many times the word appears in the AF.” In Accordance, these words are hyperlinked. When the Accordance users clicks on these numbers, Accordance instantly opens a new tab and runs a search in the Apostolic Fathers for this word! Print editions can’t even come close to this kind of usefulness.
If you already have interest in reading the Apostolic Fathers or believe you will eventually, I would strongly recommend getting both the Lexicon and Holmes’ text in Greek and English today.
Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers
Regular Price $27.90
Holmes’ Apostolic Fathers Text (Greek & English)
Regular Price $99.90