The Scriptures Are Not a Playground

As a way of illustrating “the sharper quality of Augustine’s mind,” Peter Brown (Augustine of Hippo: A Biography) considers Augustine’s “long-drawn-out correspondence” with Jerome. According to Brown, this document is unique in the Early Church for “it shows two highly-civilized men conducting with studied courtesy, a singularly rancorous correspondence.”

The following section is a good reminder from church history that “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) is no child’s play:

And when at last Jerome offered to bury the hatchet, and proposed (with considerable restraint, given his taste for invective), that they should “play together harmlessly in the fields of the Scriptures,” Augustine was not amused: “As for me, I prefer to do things in earnest, not to ‘play.’ If you chose the word to imply that what we do is easy exercise, then let me tell you, frankly, that I expected more of you . . . . It is your business to help those engaged in great and exacting investigations–as if studying the Scriptures were a matter of romping around on level ground, not puffing and panting up a steep mountain-face.”

[All quotes taken from pp. 271-72 of the revised edition, University of California Press: 2000.]

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