Friday, March 2, 2018

The Church Fathers On The Perspicuity Of Scripture

Irenaeus (130-200) "For no question can be solved by means of another which itself awaits solution; nor, in the opinion of those possessed of sense, can an ambiguity be explained by means of another ambiguity, or enigmas by means of another greater enigma, but things of such character receive their solution from those which are manifest and consistent and clear." Ante-Nicene Fathers: Vol I, Against Heresies, 2.10.1 "..all Scripture, which has been given to us by God, shall be found by us perfectly consisted; and the parables shall harmonise with those passages which are perfectly plain; and those statements the meaning of which is clear, shall serve to explain the parables; and through the many diversified utterances (of Scripture) there shall be heard one harmonious melody in us, praising in hymns that God who created all things." Ibid.

Tertullian (160-220) "Now, if even those purposes of God against cities, and nations, and kings, which are merely temporal, local and personal in their character, have been proclaimed so clearly in prophecy, how is it to be supposed that those dispensations of His which are eternal and of universal concern to the human race, should be void of all real light in themselves? The grander they are, the clearer should be their announcement, in order that their superior greatness might be believed. And I apprehend that God cannot possibly have ascribed to Him either envy, or guile, or inconsistency, or artifice, by help of which evil qualities it is that all schemes of unusual grandeur are litigiously promulgated." [I]ANF: Vol III, "On the Resurrection of the Flesh", Ch.21.

Basil of Caesarea (329-379) "Whatever seems to be spoken ambiguously or obscurely in some places of holy Scripture, is cleared up by what is plain and evident in other places" Regulas Brevius Tractatas, Interrogatio 267 Translated by William Whittaker.

Ambrose (339-397) "In most places Paul so explains his meaning by his own words, that he who discourses on them can find nothing to add of his own; and if he wishes to say anything, must rather perform the office of a grammarian than a discourser." Epistola XXXVII, PL 16:1084

Chrysostom (349-407) "let us follow the direction of Sacred Scripture in the interpretation it gives of itself, provided we don't get completely absorbed with the concreteness of the words, but realise that our limitations are the reason for the concreteness of the language. Human senses, you see, would never be able to grasp what is said if they had not the benefit of such great considerateness." Homilies on Genesis " Commenting on v. 4 of Psalm 45: "Do you see how Scripture interprets itself, showing the victory to be intellectual and spiritual?"

Jerome (347-420) "This passage to the ignorant, and to those who are unaccustomed to meditate on Holy Scripture, and who neither know nor use it, does appear at first sight to favour your opinion. But when you look into it, the difficulty soon disappears. And when you compare passages of Scripture with others, that the Holy Spirit may not seem to contradict Himself.." Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers 2: Vol VI St. Jerome Against the Pelagians, Book I.14

"...let us call upon the Lord, probe the depths of His sacred writings, and be guided in our interpretation by other testimonies from Holy Writ. Whatever we cannot fathom in the deep recess of the Old Testament, we shall penetrate and explain from the depth of the New Testament in the roar of God's cataracts--His prophets and apostles."Fathers of the Church Vol.57 The Homilies of St. Jerome: Vol 2, Homily 92, p 246

The above excerpts from patristic writers were taken from Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, by David T. King and William Webster, found on an online forum.

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