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The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture does what very few of today's students of the Bible could do for themselves. With the aid of computer technology, the vast array of writings from the church fathers—including much that is available only in the ancient languages—have been combed for their comment on Scripture. From these results, scholars with a deep knowledge of the fathers and a heart for the church have hand-selected material for each volume, shaping, annotating and introducing it to today's readers. Each portion of commentary has been chosen for its salient insight, its rhetorical power and its faithful representation of the consensual exegesis of the early church.
The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture is an ecumenical project, promoting a vital link of communication between the varied Christian traditions of today and their common ancient ancestors in the faith. On this shared ground, we listen as leading pastoral theologians of seven centuries gather around the text of Scripture and offer their best theological, spiritual and pastoral insights.
Today the historical-critical method of interpretation has nearly exhausted its claim on the biblical text and on the church. In its wake there is a widespread yearning among Christian individuals and communities for the wholesome, the deep and the enduring. The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture does not seek to replace those excellent commentaries that have been produced in the twentieth century. Rather, it supplements them, framing them with interpretive voices that have long sustained the church and only recently have fallen silent. It invites us to listen with appreciative ears and sympathetic minds as our ancient ancestors in the faith describe and interpret the scriptural vistas as they see them.
The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture is a postcritical revival of the early commentary tradition known as the glossa ordinaria, a text artfully elaborated with ancient and authoritative reflections and insights. An uncommon companion for theological interpretation, spiritual reading, and wholesome teaching and preaching.
About the James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude volume:
Because the Catholic Epistles focus on orthodox faith and morals, the Fathers drew on them as a means of defense against the rising challenge of heretics. This factor gave these letters a freshness and relevance to conditions in the fourth and fifth centuries that might otherwise seem surprising. Many of the Fathers unabashedly saw in them anticipatory attacks on Marcion and strong defenses against the Arians. They did so quite naturally because in their view truth was eternal and deviations from it had existed from the beginning.
Above all, the Fathers found in the Catholic Epistles a manual for spiritual warfare, counsel for the faithful in the cosmic struggle between good and evil. In them was sound instruction in the ways of self-sacrifice, generosity and humility, through which the cosmic forces of evil could be defeated.
Allusions to these letters go back as far as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Tertullian, but the first commentary derives from Clement of Alexandria. Didymus the Blind was the next significant Greek-speaking commentator, though his commentary is fully extant only in Latin translation. Many of the comments from the early centuries have been passed on to us through Latin catenae, or chain commentaries, in which a later commentator collected comments from a variety of sources and chained them together in a fashion much like that of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Among Latin commentators on these letters, pride of place must be given to Bede the Venerable.
This volume opens up a treasure house of ancient wisdom that allows these faithful witnesses, some appearing here in English translation for the first time, to speak with eloquence and intellectual acumen to the church today.