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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Monday, February 27, 2006  

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Vol. I

I'm excited to announce the release of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture for Accordance. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the ACCS is a new commentary from InterVarsity Press comprised of excerpts from the writings of the Early Church Fathers. For each passage covered, select writings from a wide variety of fathers provide insight into the meaning and/or application of that passage.

For example, in the commentary on Romans 9:11-13, fathers such as Augustine, Pelagius, Chrysostom, Ambrosiaster, and Origen all wrestle with what it means that God loved Jacob and hated Esau before the twins had been born or done anything good or bad. Here are a few examples:

Pelagius: God's foreknowledge does not prejudge the sinner, if he is willing to repent.

Ambrosiaster: . . . knowing what each of them would become, God said: "The younger will be worthy and the elder unworthy." In his foreknowledge he chose the one and rejected the other. . .

Augustine: . . . we reply that God did this by foreknowledge, by which he knows what even the unborn will be like in the future. But let no one say God chose the works of the man whom he loved, although these works did not yet exist, because he knew in advance what they would be. If God elected works, why does the apostle say that election is not according to works?

Note that I've only excerpted bits and pieces of the comments by each Father. Some of these fathers give much more detailed arguments than I've included here. But the excerpts I've given show just how far back some theological debates actually go. The question of the role of foreknowledge in election did not originate with Luther, Calvin, Arminius, and Wesley, and those more recent theologians were very much dependent on the insights of earlier commentators.

While the ACCS is certainly fascinating from a historical point of view, I don't believe that to be its primary benefit. First, I think the ACCS is very much a preacher's commentary. It is chock full of pastoral insights and pithy quotes which can help the busy pastor get at the heart of a passage quickly. (Besides, just think how well-read you'll look when you start quoting Theodoret of Cyr and Gennadius of Constantinople in your sermons!)

The ACCS is also helpful in overcoming the chronological snobbery into which many contemporary Christians tend to slip. When we see that sound Biblical exegesis didn't necessarily begin in the sixteenth, or the eighteenth, or the twentieth centuries, we begin to sense a greater connection with the early church.

The ACCS CD-ROM includes the twelve volumes which are currently available in print:

  1. Genesis 1-11
  2. Genesis 12-50
  3. Exodus-Deuteronomy
  4. The Minor Prophets
  5. Matthew 1-13
  6. Matthew 14-28
  7. Mark
  8. Luke
  9. Romans
  10. 1-2 Corinthians
  11. Galatians-Colossians
  12. 1 Thessalonians-Philemon

The ACCS CD-ROM retails for $480, but is currently on sale for $384. For more details and a screenshot, check out this page.

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