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Patristic Study

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Henry Barclay Swete
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Unhappily this neglect of the Fathers is not limited to the laity. Times are changed since George Herbert wrote The country parson hath read the Fathers also and the Schoolmen and the later writers, or a good proportion of all.1 Multiplied engagements forbid the wider reading which once was possible; even the professed student is compelled by the exacting claims of every department of knowledge to limit himself to one corner of the great field. Yet Patristic studies demand a place in the reading of the clergy next after that of the New Testa ment. The parson, whether his work lie in town or in country, is bound to acquaint him self with some at least of the great Christian writers who followed the Apostles. And there is no study, except that of Holy Scripture, which he will find more profitable. The very struggle to overcome linguistic difficulties and to get at the exact meaning of a writer who lived under condi tions Wholly different from his own, cannot fail to stimulate and to instruct. Moreover, the parish priest of the twentieth century will find in the greater writers of the Ancient Church much direct help for his daily work; sermons, catechis.

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