Saturday, March 30, 2013

Theonas of Alexandria on the Importance of Sacred Scripture

Despite the claims of the Roman Church in reaction to the Reformation, there is an immense divide between Patristic piety and late Medieval spirituality. In the late Medieval church, reading of sacred Scripture was discouraged on behalf of the laity; it was done by some of the clergy, and even then only with the guidance of magisterial teaching. The following quote from the 4th century Alexandrian bishop Theonas which is representative of the place which Scripture held in the church prior to the Middle Ages,

"Let no day pass by without reading some portion of Sacred Scripture, at such convenient hours as offers, and giving some space to meditation. And never cast off the habit of reading in the Holy Scriptures; for nothing feeds the soul and enriches the mind so well as those sacred studies do." Epistle to Lucianus IX.

This is advice that we would be wise to accept.

8 comments:

Joe said...

Chrysostom also says:

"Let us then hear, as many of us as neglect the reading of the Scriptures, to what harm we are subjecting ourselves, to what poverty. NPNF1: VOl. X, Homilies on Matthew, Homily 47.4"

in Him,

Joe H

Joe said...

I especially like Ambrose comments:

"The books of the heavenly Scriptures are good pastures, by which we are fed by daily reading, by which we are renewed and refreshed, when we taste the thins that are written, or ruminate frequently upon that which has been tasted. Upon these pastures the flock of the Lord is fattened. Psalm 119, Sermo Quartus Decimus 2"

in Him,

Joe H

Jordan Cooper said...

Thanks Joe, these are some great quotes, and from my two favorite Church Fathers!

RomGabe said...

+++"The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home."

-- St. Augustine of Hippo (4th century)+++

RomGabe said...

"reading of sacred Scripture was discouraged on behalf of the laity; it was done by some of the clergy, and even then only with the guidance of magisterial teaching."

reminds me of my 2 years wasted with the Jehovah's Witnesses, where the method of reading/understanding Scriptures was thru the Watchtower lenses. Even on Sunday mornings, during the 1 hour when they would read the magazine article, the questions would be answered by the patent-formulations in the magazine text.

Trent said...

Here is a compendium of Patristic quotations reinforcing the historic truth that the sufficiency of Scripture is not a novel teaching that came about in the sixteenth century.

Jordan Cooper said...

Thanks Trent. I do see sola scriptura as the majority teaching in the early fathers. There is an idea that arises at the time of Basil that there are certain practices passed down in apostolic tradition which are not explicitly taught in Scripture (Basil speaks specifically of Triune immersion) and thus should be practiced. This eventually developed into the idea that doctrine can be found outside of the Biblical text.

Martin Yee said...

Hi Jordan,

Interesting, in that case it can be quite dangerous as authority of the church/doctrine is also present in the apostolic traditions outside of scriptures. Do you subsribe to this idea too based on your patristic studies?

Thanks.

martin