On Reading the Holy Scriptures
In the holy Scriptures, truth is to be looked for rather than fair phrases. All sacred scriptures should be read in the spirit in which they were written. In them, therefore, we should seek food for our souls rather than subtleties of speech, and we should as readily read simple and devout books as those that are lofty and profound. Do not be influenced by the importance of the writer, and whether his learning be great or small, but let the love of pure truth draw you to read. Do not inquire, `Who said this?'(Seneca, Epist.12) but pay attention to what is said (S.Augustine on Ps. 34).
Men pass away, but the word of the Lord endures forever (Ps. 127:2).
God speaks to us in different ways, (Col. 3:25) and is no respecter of persons (Ecclus 6:35; 8-9). But curiosity often hinders us in the reading of the Scriptures, for we try to examine and dispute over matters that we should pass over and accept in simplicity. If you desire to profit, read with humility, simplicity, and faith, and have no concern to appear learned. Ask questions freely, and listen in silence to the words of the Saints; hear with patience the parables of the fathers, for they are not told without good cause.
Chapter 4 Table of Contents Chapter 6