QOTD: Augustine on the Scriptures

In one of Auguestine’s letters he writes to Volusianus, a young aristocrat, who had doubts about the Christian religion. Volusianus argued that the Christians philosophy challenged Roman ideals and is one of the reasons for Visigoths plundering Rome in 410. A young Augustine reaches out and argues that to attack the Christian philosophy you must first understand the Christian scriptures for they are the foundation for the Christian’s thinking. The posture one must come to the Scriptures is one of humility and submission to the wisdom and knowledge contained in them. In a letter responding to Volusianus he writes concerning the nature of the Scriptures,

The Christian writings are so astonishingly profound that even if I had more free time, more intense desire, and more talent to master them alone, from the beginning of boyhood up to my decrepit old age, I would still find myself making progress in them on a daily basis. I don’t mean to say that readers come to those matters necessary for salvation with such great difficulty. But even though each person grasps them through the fait without which no one lives a pious and upright life, many, many things remain to be understood by those making progress. These matters are cloaked in such shadows of mysteries, and such fathomless wisdom lies hidden in them—not only in the words they use to say what they say but also in the realitities that give themselves to be understood in them. So much so that those with the most years of experience, with the most intelligence, and with the most intense desire to learn are the very ones who experience what the same Scriptures say elsewhere: When people come to the end, then they’re at the beginning” [Sirach 18:6].

Translation and background information from Cameron, Michael. Christ Meets Me Everywhere: Augustine’s Early Figurative Exegesis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

From Augustine’s writings in Ep. 137.1.3 (CCL 31B:258)

Logos Link (you must have the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers)

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