Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators

Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators

Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators

Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators

Synopsis

The Church's Bible series serves to bring the rich classical tradition of biblical interpretation to life. 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 hence of the Bible itself.

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's 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.

Excerpt

The volumes in the Church’s Bible are designed to present the Holy Scriptures as understood and interpreted during the first millennium of Christian history. the Christian Church has a long tradition of commentary on the Bible. in the early Church all discussion of theological topics, of moral issues, and of Christian practice took the biblical text as the starting point. the recitation of the psalms and meditation on books of the Bible, particularly in the context of the liturgy or of private prayer, nurtured the spiritual life. For most of the Church’s history theology and scriptural interpretation were one. Theology was called sacra pagina (the sacred page), and the task of interpretinglect passages on particular issues. For example, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, discussed many passages from the Old and New Testaments in his defense of the apostolic faith against the Gnostics. By the beginning of the third century Christian bishops and scholars had begun to preach regular series of sermons that followed the biblical books verse by verse. Some wrote more scholarly commentaries that examined in greater detail grammatical, literary, and historical questions as well as theological ideas and spiritual teachings found in the texts. From Origen of Alexandria, the first great biblical commentator in the Church’s history, we have, among others, a large verse-by-verse commentary on the Gospel of John, a series of homilies on Genesis and Exodus, and a large part of his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. in the course of the first eight hundred years of Christian history Christian teachers produced a library of biblical commentaries and homilies on the Bible.

Today this ancient tradition of biblical interpretation is known only in bits and pieces, and even where it still shapes our understanding of the Bible, for example, in the selection of readings for Christian worship (e.g., Isaiah 7 and Isaiah 9 read at Christmas), or the interpretation of the Psalms in daily prayer, the spiritual world that gave it birth remains shadowy and indistinct. It is the purpose of this series to make available the richness of the Church’s classical tradition of interpretation for clergy, Sunday school and Bible class teachers, men and women living in religious communities, and all serious readers of the Bible.

Anyone who reads the ancient commentaries realizes at once that they are deeply . . .

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