Many Christians today long to become reacquainted with their ancient ancestors in the faith. They see a deeper worship and devotion in the prayers and hymns of the early church. And they believe that the writings of the early church can shed new light on their understanding of Scripture. But where and how do we begin? Our first encounter with the writings of the church fathers may seem like visiting a far country where the language, assumptions, concerns and conclusions are completely unfamiliar to us.
In Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, Christopher Hall helps us through this cultural confusion, introducing us to the early church, its unique world, and the sights and sounds of Scripture that are highlighted for them. As Hall points out, the ancient fathers hear music in Scripture where we remain tone-deaf. Despite their occasional eccentricities, theirs is a hearing refined through long listening in song, worship, teaching, meditation and oral reading. And like true masters they challenge and correct our modern assumptions as they invite us to tune our ears to hear the divine melodies of the Bible. Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers is an exceptional guide. Hall provides a warm, winsome, informative and indispensable introduction to who these leaders and scholars were, how they read and interpreted Scripture, and how we might read Scripture with them for all its worth.
“Revelation, worship and tradition are the ‘fundamental womb’ in which theology is conceived, develops and flourishes.” (Page 20)
“Behind this critique was Gregory’s deep awareness that theology is a type of worship, a holy endeavor, one that blossoms in a context of prayer, devotion and adoration, but withers when transformed into an academic, speculative mind game.” (Page 71)
“Gregory contended his opponents’ devotionally deficient stance before God hampered their ability to interpret the Bible well. A diseased spiritual life crippled their ability to comprehend and explicate divine truth. Theology, Gregory argued, is not a science that operates in a spiritual or devotional vacuum. Rather, who one is, the state of one’s spiritual health and devotional well-being, distinctly influences one’s ability to interpret Scripture correctly and communicate its truth faithfully.” (Page 68)
“Carl Rogers taught me to trust my experience. The ancient Christian writers taught me to trust that Scripture and tradition would transmute my experience.” (Page 18)
“Gregory posits as a fundamental hermeneutical principle the idea of progressive revelation.” (Page 74)
Reading Scripture… provide[s] a much-needed corrective to Protestant ignorance and suspicion of tradition, combating the claim that somehow being traditionless is achievable and advantageous. Hall… [is] to be commended for letting the Fathers, these ‘long-forgotten relatives,’ speak to a wider audience.
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