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Interpretation Of Scripture
Theory (VTT 3)
by Ed. Franklin T harkins & Frans Van Liere
The middle ages were a turbulent time in the church as in society but it was also an age rich in theological and spiritual writing. One particular centre of note was the Augustinian Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris which gave rise to the Victorine theological tradition. This tradition proved critical in the transition from the meditative to more scholastic approaches to spiritual writing and reflection.
This is the third in a series of academic volumes that presents some of the writings of this school of theology, many in English for the first time. Five writers are the focus of the volume: Hugh, Andrew, Richard and Godfrey of St Victor and Robert of Melun. Each set of writings is prefaced by a helpful introduction, and all are preceded by a general introduction that sets the overall context for their writings. The volume is accompanied by extensive indexes and a bibliography that alone runs to almost thirty pages.
For specialists of the theology of the Middle Ages this volume will prove enticing, even exciting. For the ordinary reader, of which I am definitely one, the subject matter feels remote from the more pressing tasks of Christian living in the 21st century. I have read sufficiently of this volume however to know that this is a false premise. Take this from Hugh of St Victor on humility: "Humility is the beginning of discipline. Whereas the lessons of humility are many; these three are particularly pertinent to the student: first, he should consider no knowledge and no written works worthless; second he should not be ashamed to learn from anyone; and third, when he has become learned he should not hold others in contempt.”
Perhaps in time someone will make these Fathers of the Church, their lives and writings, more accessible. There is much here we need to hear.
Reviewer: David Ford (05/07/14)