Saturday Afternoon Book Review

I hope you are taking advantage of the magnificent resources available for Bible study today. I could go in fifty directions with that statement, but I will take it only one direction. Publishers today are doing their dead-level best to gather up centuries of biblical studies into volumes that present for us the best of that history. The IVP series, Ancient Christian Commentary, is one of those works.

But today I want to call your attention to a brand new series from Eerdmans called The Bible in Medieval Tradition. Many today have drunk deeply from Reformation Bible study — we still read Calvin and Luther, and we read some of the Protestant greats. We are less familiar with the patristics so IVP’s series has been nothing less than a godsend for many of us, and I can’t imagine a pastor not finding these volumes so refreshing.

But the least accessible and the least known is medieval stuff (check out that Dublin library and it makes you think of The Book of Kells; thanks Patrick). So, Ian Christoper Levy’s new book, The Letter to the Galatians (Bible in Medieval Tradition), is just the ticket. And I can’t help but be excited because this new series chose to begin with Galatians. I wish I could go back now and re-write my Galatians in light of the patristics and medievals.

Never available in English, so not really known to many of us, Levy translates and brings together the commentaries of Haimo of Auxerre, Bruno the Carthusian, Peter Lombard on Galatians 2, Robert of Melun, Robert Grosseteste on Galatians 3, and Nicholas of Lyra on Galatians 4. Each is brief enough that it can be used in sermon preparation, and students will do well to consult this source.

The book begins with an extensive introduction (78 pages of introduction to medieval hermeneutics), and a plethora of observations to be made about the commentaries proper … Haimo doesn’t soften Paul’s rebuke of Peter, sees the works of the law as circumcision, is real big on baptism, and he stresses grace as what saves. Bruno … emphasizes the Gentile sins of idolatry in his section on 2:15-21, Paul abandoned the Law, the life of Christ is lived through faith, though love, and through tradition… Peter Lombard sees Peter’s problem in leading people to observe Jewish customs … and Paul’s not against good works but only those that are prompted by grace … I could go on.

A wonderful collection that will help all of us read Galatians more responsibly.

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  • Marcus

    Wow,this looks awesome. Thanks so much for alerting us!

  • jason b. hood

    I’m salivating.

  • Jamie Arpin-Ricci

    Our community is halfway through our series on Galatians. Wish I had seen this sooner. However, Scot, your commentary has been incredibly helpful.

  • Chris Donato

    Too funny. @ Jason, I was literally salivating when I came to comment and you beat me to the punch.

    My knowledge of medieval theology/theologians begins and ends with a smattering of Boethius (and whatever I’ve picked up from middle English lit.). So glad to hear about this series.

  • Chip

    Thanks for this word, Scot. Having recently taken an Ascetical Theology course from an Anglo-Catholic perspective, I’ve come to a much deeper appreciation of medieval Christian theology and spirituality.