Sunday, 22 January 2012

Reading Scripture in the light of the tradition...

For those interested in reading Scripture in the light of the tradition, I want to highlight a fabulous resource that has been drawn to my attention, namely the two year patristic lectionary developed for the excellent Benedictine Pluscarden Abbey by Durham University's Centre for Catholic Studies.

Reading Scripture in the light of the tradition

I've argued on a number of occasions that we shouldn't just read Scripture as if we were sola scriptura Christians (or sola NT Wright or any other modern theologian Christians!), but rather need the context provided by the tradition.

This website basically provides the tools to do this, setting out a two year cycle of linked Scripture and patristic and other orthodox commentaries on it. 

The Office and patristic commentaries

Stephen Holmes introduces the resource on the website as follows:

"...Scripture has always been read in the Church in the context of tradition. With the development of the Divine Office (services of prayer celebrated at different times of each day) the daily cycle of Scripture reading came to be accompanied by commentaries from the fathers of the Church, as St Benedict wrote in the middle of the sixth century, ‘Let the inspired books of both the Old and the New Testaments be read at Vigils, as also commentaries on them by the most eminent orthodox and catholic fathers’ (Rule of Benedict, IX). The main surviving early Latin collections of readings from the fathers, or patristic lectionaries, are those of Alan of Farfa and Paul the Deacon from the eighth century. These formed the basis of the patristic lectionary used in the Roman Breviary and many other Latin Breviaries. Over time the readings from the fathers were cut back in length with no thought to their meaning. Attempts were made to improve the patristic lectionary by Cardinal Quiñonez in the sixteenth century, the monks of Cluny in the seventeenth century and Archbishop Vintimille of Paris in the eighteenth, but the inadequate patristic lectionary of the Breviarium Romanum (1568) and Breviarium Monasticum (1612) continued in use until the Second Vatican Council (1962-65)...

The aim of the Two Year Patristic Lectionary is thus:

•To have each patristic reading either related to the Scripture reading or to the season of the Church’s year.
•To have a reading for every day of the Temporal cycle (i.e. including days such as Christmas, Ascension, Sacred Heart).
•To have the vast majority of the ‘patristic’ readings from the Fathers of the Church, although following medieval precedent writers such as Origen have been included. This gives it ecumenical value.
•To use readings from the one year cycle in the Divine Office and the two year cycle of Word in Season whenever possible.
•To include the texts of a complete two-year Scripture cycle, as approved by the Holy See, for use with the patristic readings..."

A wealth of readings

It is essentially aligned to the Ordinary Form LOTH, but comes with summary tables that would make it readily adaptable for those wishing to find patristic readings linked to the traditional Office, with enough material to spread over a couple of years.

So this week in the 1962 Roman and Benedictine Office of Matins for example, the Scripture readings for the first half of the week are from Galatians.  Under year two in the first half of Ordinary time, you can find patristic readings to go with these including from St Augustine, St Ambrose, St Jerome, St Gregory of Nyssa and Tertullian.

I rather like the fact that while the readings draw heavily on the standard fathers, there are a rather wider selection of the Fathers than is normal, including many monastic classics such as John of Climacus' Spiritual Ladder.  And also one or two more recent selections from medieval and later authors such as Walter Hilton's Ladder of Perfection (one of my favourite works!), Aelred of Rievaux, and even Blessed John Cardinal Newman!

Do go take a look.


HolyCatholicApostoli said...

Biblia Clerus (from the Congregation of the Clergy) is an excellent resource available online or through a downloadable program that links relevant scripture passages to writings of Church Fathers, Saints, Councils, writings of Popes and more.

See here for more info.

Kate said...

Thanks Holy Catholic Apostolic.

Yes, there are a number of useful resources around now, and Bibliaclerus can certainly be useful. For cross-indexing against the pre-Nicene Fathers, Text Week is better though!

In relation to bibliaclerus though, I'd have to say that although it is an excellent resource in principle, in practice I find it pretty clunky to use!

First, it is often quite difficult to locate the actual Scriptural quotes referred to because it will generally take you to the whole of an often very long sermon or set of sermons or papal document. Sometimes there are in text references, but other times just footnotes which then need to be searched.

Secondly, a lot of the cross indexing is inconsistent - different abbreviations for Scripture (making it harder to do a 'find' function on it), or in the case of the psalms, sometimes to the Vulgate system of numbering, sometimes to the Masoretic Text!

Thirdly, if you are using the online version, it is not easy to navigate backwards and forwards. If you wnat to search on two psalms for example (because who knows which one the relevant documents might have been indexed too!) you often have to go back to the man menu....

gmck9431 said...

Hi Kate,
Are you able to read the download from Pluscarden? Some I can read and other parts (on the same page) are in Computer language.It's probably my Computer lacking the correct program, just asking. Looks good though!

Kate said...

Works fine for me - comes up as a word document, which may be the problem if you don't have word.

There are ways of getting around that though I suspect, perhaps if you try downloading a translation program like (just google)...

gmck9431 said...


HolyCatholicApostoli said...

It would be nice for a new version of Biblia Clerus to be released that fixes some of the issues you mention.

However, it does provide very useful guidance from Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium, when reading Scripture verses that are difficult to interpret, or otherwise.

Donna said...

>even the Ven John Newman...

That's great, but he's been Blessed John Henry Newman since September 19th, 2010. His feast day is October 9th - the anniversary of his reception into the Church. (His date of death was August 11th, which the feast of St. Clare of Assisi, so it was decided another date would be preferable !)

Kate said...

Thanks Donna, I should ahve picked that up, corrected now.

Daniel Arseno said...

Now if only we could have the two year lectionary in Latin.