I’ve just spent much of my morning trying to track down some references that I could have pinpointed in a couple of seconds if I were surrounded by my (regular) library. Alas, the books for which I was looking seem not to have made the Atlantic crossing; specifically, I was looking for my copy of Benedicta Ward’s Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Anyway, I eventually located:
Epiphanius said, “The acquisition of Christian books is necessary for those who can use them. For the mere sight of these books renders us less inclined to sin, and incites us to believe more firmly in righteousness.”
He also said, “Reading the Scriptures is a great safeguard against sin.”
He also said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is a precipice and a deep abyss.”
Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection, §8, 9, 11
Interestingly, Mike Gorman blogged the first of the sayings earlier this year — but that’s not surprising, granted the extensive overlap of our interests and sympathies.
2 comments / Add your comment below
Our Church Fathers were not particularly worried about sharing wisdom without citation. Here’s Chrysostom (from the Third Discourse on Lazarus and the Rich Man):
“The reading of the Scriptures is a great safeguard against sin; ignorance of the Scriptures is a great precipice and a deep gulf; to know nothing of the Scriptures is a great betrayal of our salvation.”
and, for good measure:
“Many other such things there are that beset our soul; and we have need of the divine remedies that we may heal wounds inflicted, and ward off those which, though not inflicted, would else be received in time to come–thus quenching afar off the darts of Satan, and shielding ourselves by the constant reading of the Divine Scriptures. It is not possible–I say, it is not possible, for any one to be secure without constant supplies of this spiritual instruction.”
I’m gazing fixedly at my books, in the hope of attenuating my proclivity to sin. Maybe buying all that French postmodern theory really was bad for my soul….