Ever since I took a church history survey course in middle school I’ve been fascinated by the subject. Two of my great passions have been the study of theology and the study of history; and church history scratches both of those itches in a most satisfying way. This love for church history has evolved quite naturally into a passion for historical theology, and I have no doubt that historical theology will be central to whatever course my future studies might take.
As I’ve continued to explore these matters I’ve become increasingly drawn to a study of the Early Church. As a Reformed Presbyterian this might seem a strange attraction, but I know enough about historical theology at this point to be confident that I must study the Fathers precisely because I am Reformed. While modern Reformed thinkers are too often unfamiliar with the thought and theology of the Early Church Fathers this has not always been the case. To read from the works of the Reformers and the Puritans is to read the works of men who are intimately familiar with the writings of the Early Church. I’ve become fascinated not only with the writings of the Church Fathers, but also to explore how their writings influenced the theology and reflections of their Reformed and Puritan conversation partners.
But that is a topic for further exploration. The purpose of this post is to introduce my first formal foray into teaching on the subject of Patristics. I have been part of a Sunday School class this past semester which has been considering how to study the Bible. I was asked recently if I would give a lecture for one class on some controversy over interpretation which has arisen in the history of the Church. As you can imagine from the background I’ve given, I was immediately keen to do something on the Church Fathers. I’ve recently been reading Christopher A. Hall’s wonderful book Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers and have found it wonderfully insightful and engaging. I decided to bring together his work into a lecture on Patristic Exegesis, focusing on the debates which arose between the Antiochian and Alexandrian Schools of interpretation. Below is an audio link to that lecture. I hope it will be instructive, and that it will encourage all of us to a deeper study of church history and a greater love and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures themselves!
You can find the lecture here: https://soundcloud.com/ben-franks-14/patristic-exegesis