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The Church’s Bible (4 vols.)
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Overview

In the early church, all discussion of theological topics, moral issues, and Christian practices started with the biblical text, resulting in a substantial library of biblical commentaries and homilies. Unfortunately, this ancient body of writings is now known only in bits and pieces—if at all. The Church’s Bible series brings this rich classical tradition of biblical interpretation to life once again. Compiled, translated, and edited by leading scholars, these volumes draw extensively from early and medieval commentators, illuminating Holy Scripture as it was understood during the first millennium of Christian history. Designed for clergy, Bible teachers, men and women in religious communities, and all serious students of Scripture, The Church’s Bible will lead contemporary readers into the inexhaustible spiritual and theological world of the early church and the Bible itself.

The Logos Bible Software edition of The Church’s Bible is designed to encourage and stimulate your study and understanding of the early church commentary on the biblical text. Scripture passages link directly to your English translations and original-language texts, while important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. In addition, you can perform powerful searches by topic and find what other authors, scholars, and theologians have to say. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Composed of patristic and medieval commentary on the Bible
  • Reveals a millennium’s worth of rich biblical interpretation
  • Edited and translated by key scholars in the field

Praise for the Print Edition

The Church’s Bible, a new commentary series on books of the Bible composed of quotations from patristic and medieval commentators, bears witness to the long, rich tradition of biblical interpretation within the church catholic. Such a series has always been badly needed. It also provides a welcome corrective to current fringe modes of interpretation that are more interested in rhetoric, style, or sociology than in the substance and content of the written Word of God. Recommended heartily to all pastors, preachers, and professors and students of theology.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, SJ, emeritus professor, Catholic University of America

Serious students of the Bible will want to consider subscribing to the entire series, which holds the promise of powerfully enriching and recasting scriptural study in the twenty-first century.

First Things

This series rescues from the shadows the many penetrating insights of ancient Jewish and Christian interpreters. . . . They can continue to instruct us today with their perception into the perennial foibles of the human condition.

Religious Studies Review

Individual Titles

The Song of Songs: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators

  • Editor: Richard A. Norris
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2001
  • Pages: 347

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The Song of Songs, traditionally attributed to Solomon, is a collection of lyrics that celebrate in earthly terms the love of a bridegroom and a bride. Throughout the course of early Christian history, the Song of Songs was widely read as an allegory of the love of Christ both for the church and for its individual members. In reading the Song this way, Christians were following in the steps of Jewish exegetes who saw the Song as celebrating the love of God for Israel.

In The Song of Songs, the inaugural volume of The Church’s Bible, Richard A. Norris Jr. uses commentaries and sermons from the church’s first millennium to illustrate the original Christian understanding of Solomon’s beautiful poem. In recent times, the Song of Songs has been more a focus of literary than of religious interest, but Norris’ work shows that for early Christians, this text was counted, with the Psalms and the Gospels, among those Scriptures that touched most deeply on the believer’s relation to God.

All in all, Norris’ Song of Songs is a masterful work that aptly acquaints contemporary readers with the church’s traditional way of discerning in this text a guide to the character of Christian belief and life. This volume—and the entire Church’s Bible series—will be welcomed by preachers, teachers, students, and general readers alike.

Richard A. Norris Jr. (1930–2005) was professor emeritus of church history at Union Theological Seminary, New York City, priest associate of the Church of St. Ignatius of Antioch (Manhattan), and diocesan canon in the Diocese of New York. He taught and wrote extensively on the history and development of doctrine in the early church. His major publications in the field include God and World in Early Christian Theology and The Christological Controversy.

Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators

  • Editor: Robert Louis Wilken
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Pages: 618

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In his extremely thorough work on Isaiah, Robert Wilken brings to bear his considerable knowledge of early Christianity. Drawing on writings of the church fathers—Eusebius of Caesarea, Ambrose, Jerome, Cyril of Alexandria, Theodoret of Cyrus, Bernard of Clairvaux, and nearly 60 others—all of them masterfully translated, this work allows the complex words of Isaiah to come alive.

Wilken’s selection of ancient commentators clearly illuminates how Isaiah was used by the New Testament writers and understood by the early church fathers. Each chapter begins with a modern English translation of the septuagint, prepared by Moisés Silva. Editorial comments provide a foundation for understanding the excerpted commentaries and other writings that follow for each chapter.

Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators is ideal for devotional and spiritual reading and for a deeper understanding of the church’s historical interpretation of this major prophet.

This addition to the Church’s Bible series makes available a remarkably rich selection from the great volume of Christian commentary on Isaiah written during the church’s first millennium. It is significant both historically, as a contribution to the history of biblical interpretation, and theologically, as an expression of faith nourished by an attentive and devout reading of ‘the sacred page.’

Joseph Blenkinsopp, John A. O’Brien Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, University of Notre Dame

The Isaiah volume in The Church’s Bible is as intellectually and aesthetically delightful as its predecessors in this series, and it is an essential resource for anyone who wants to see what this Hebrew prophet has meant to Christians. Isaiah is especially important among the prophetic books because of the explicitness with which Christians have taken it to speak of Christ, and this is amply represented in the commentaries collected here. So too is some of the anti-Jewish polemic sometimes practiced by Christians. Both threads are important for understanding the history of Christian perceptions of the Jewish people, and they are woven elegantly together in this fascinating book.

Paul J. Griffiths, Warren Professor of Catholic Theology, Duke Divinity School

This outstanding volume opens a new window on the text of one of Israel’s most beloved prophets, Isaiah. I found myself continually entranced by the innumerable insights that the early Christian theological imagination was able to cull from its biblical source. The approach taken by these writers is often as hard-hitting as it is edifying. These classic thinkers took the biblical text seriously and wrestled with problems that continue to befuddle modern readers. This masterful collection of patristic interpretations gives the reader a powerful new lens with which to examine the sacred page. One of the real attractions of the volume is that the selections provided are long enough that one can take a favorite interpreter and follow him through the course of the whole book.

Gary Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Notre Dame

Robert Wilken offers us a treasure trove of gems providing insight into one of the most beloved biblical prophets, garnered from early and medieval writers, so enabling modern readers once again to approach this book of Scripture as Christians did for many centuries—as a witness to Christ. This volume is certain to stimulate further the contemporary renewed appreciation of the depths and riches of the traditional Christian approach to Scripture; for this, and for the series, we are truly thankful.

—Fr. John Behr, dean and professor of patristics, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

In short, this volume is an outstanding addition to the field of Isaiah studies and can be useful for both scholars and lay readers alike.

Review of Biblical Literature

Robert Louis Wilken is the William R Kenan Jr. Chair in the History of Christianity at the University of Virginia. He is the author of many books including The Christians as the Romans Saw Them.

Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators

  • Editor: J. Patout Burns Jr.
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 456

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

This Church’s Bible volume brings together select lengthy excerpts from early Christian writings on Romans, Paul’s most comprehensive statement of Christian teaching. J. Patout Burns Jr. has judiciously chosen extended passages from such church fathers as Origen, Rufinus, Pelagius, Chrysostom, Ambrosiaster, Augustine, and Theodoret, enabling readers today to benefit from the church’s rich treasure trove of commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Covering the first five hundred years of Christian history, this volume incorporates new translations made from the best texts currently available.

Both Burns’ pastoral sensitivity and his extensive study of patristics shine through his selection of ancient passages, which run the full gamut of perspectives on Romans. Each passage is relevant and applicable to our current understanding and living of the Christian life, not just historically valuable. This volume—and the entire Church’s Bible series—will be welcomed by preachers, teachers, students, and general readers alike.

The Church’s Bible has already distinguished itself as the preeminent place to find the riches of patristic exegesis made available in a reliable and accessible form. J. Patout Burns’ volume, Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators, is a welcome addition to this series. It provides a wide range of commentary on Romans from such ancient masters as Origen, John Chrysostom, Pelagius, Ambrosiaster, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Cyril of Alexandria, and, of course, Augustine. Burns’ judicious selections reveal the Church Fathers to be careful readers of the biblical text, striving to recover its meaning for their own time and place. This is an invaluable resource for a contemporary reading and recovery of Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

—David G. Hunter, Cottrill-Rolfes Chair of Catholic Studies, University of Kentucky

The Church’s Bible, a new commentary series on books of the Bible composed of quotations from patristic and medieval commentators, bears witness to the long, rich tradition of biblical interpretation within the church catholic. Such a series has always been badly needed. It also provides a welcome corrective to current fringe modes of interpretation that are more interested in rhetoric, style, or sociology than in the substance and content of the written Word of God. Recommended heartily to all pastors, preachers, and professors and students of theology.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, professor emeritus, Catholic University of America

This series rescues from the shadows the many penetrating insights of ancient Jewish and Christian interpreters. . . . They can continue to instruct us today with their perception into the perennial foibles of the human condition.

Religious Studies Review

Serious students of the Bible will want to consider subscribing to the entire series, which holds the promise of powerfully enriching and recasting scriptural study in the twenty-first century.

First Things

J. Patout Burns Jr. is the Edward A. Malloy Professor Emeritus of Catholic Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. His other books include Cyprian the Bishop and War and Its Discontents: Pacifism and Quietism in the Abrahamic Traditions.

1 Corinthians: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators

  • Editor: Judith L. Kovacs
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Pages: 370

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, one of the earliest Christian writings, had enormous influence on the formation of Christian teaching. In this Church’s Bible volume Judith L. Kovacs weaves comments from all the commentaries and sermon series written in Latin or Greek between the years 250 and 800, illustrating the historic Christian understanding of this crucial text.

The church fathers gathered here include Augustine of Hippo, Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, Athanasius, Origen, John Chrysostom, and many more. Preceding the line-by-line exegesis are a lucid essay by Robert Louis Wilken on how the church fathers interpreted the New Testament, an informative introduction to 1 Corinthians by Kovacs, and two chapters of general patristic commentary on Paul and on this letter. Completing the volume are several helpful appendixes and indexes.

Freshly translating many passages into idiomatic English for the first time, Kovacs does not merely excerpt random quotes from the church fathers but instead produces a sustained interaction with their direct comments on 1 Corinthians. This soaking in the wisdom of the past is sure to spiritually refresh and intellectually sharpen contemporary readers who seek to better understand this part of Scripture.

Here is an excellent contribution to this poignantly named series, which should prove a rich resource for libraries, preachers, and expositors.

Theological Book Review

Judith Kovacs has done a magnificent job with this second volume of The Church’s Bible. Her translations are always fluent and sometimes inspired, and the extracts she has chosen range from the merely interesting to the arresting. Many of them repay not only study and thought but also prayer and meditation, showing abundantly that commentary on Scripture was, for the church fathers, always at least as much a matter of the heart as of the intellect.

Paul J. Griffiths, Warren Professor of Catholic Theology, Duke Divinity School

This distinguished work is a model of how to bring patristic exegesis alive for a new generation. Judith Kovacs’ selection of passages and her lengthy, fresh translations will yield new theological and exegetical insights to readers not familiar with pre-Enlightenment criticism and should persuade them that this field deserves far more attention than it has until now received. This volume sets a standard for the Church’s Bible series that other scholars will want to emulate.

Robert Morgan, emeritus professor, University of Oxford

Scholarly, but also accessible to the intelligent reader. . . Kovacs provides commentary from close to thirty patristic sources in all, and each selection is pertinent to the text at hand.

Commonweal

Kovacs has, here, translated and edited some of the most important early commentary on 1 Corinthians. . . This book is an invaluable tool for any who are interested in the interpretation of scripture throughout the Christian era.

Journal for the Study of the New Testament Booklist

The average pastor will find The Church’s Bible far more helpful for week-to-week study, preaching, and teaching of the Scriptures than the Ancient Christian Commentary.

Concordia Journal

Deserves to be welcomed warmly, since it allows a wide readership to gain access to ancient biblical interpretations that are either difficult to find or that are so numerous that one easily drowns in the material.

Review of Biblical Literature

Judith L. Kovacs is associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, series editor of the Blackwell Bible Commentaries, and coauthor (with Christopher Rowland) of the Blackwell volume on Revelation.

Product Details

  • Title: The Church’s Bible
  • Editor: Robert Louis Wilken
  • Series: The Church’s Bible
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Volumes: 4
  • Pages: 1,791

About Robert Louis Wilken

Robert Louis Wilken is distinguished fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Virginia.