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Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: 6 Hardcover – 30 Sep 1998

2.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 30 Sep 1998
£19.03 £16.47
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Inter-Varsity Press,US (30 Sept. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830814914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830814916
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 19.7 x 26 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,571,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Highly recommended."-"Choice, September 1999 --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher

Classic patristic exegesis of Paul's magnum opus.

For millennia, people of faith have pondered the meaning of Scripture. No book in human history has been the focus of so much interpretation, comment and exposition. Yet tragically the interpretive voices of early church expositors, the luminaries of a vital period of biblical interpretation, have virtually fallen silent in the contemporary study, teaching and discussion of Scripture.

Now the modern church has an unparalleled resource for reading the Scriptures in the light of the early church. Through the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture these interpreters now speak again.


In collaboration with the Ancient Christian Commentary Project at Drew University, InterVarsity Press is pleased to publish the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (ACCS). Already four years in development, the first volumes of this series are scheduled for release by InterVarsity Press during summer 1998.

Under the leadership of Thomas C. Oden, general editor, an international team of scholars will produce three or four new volumes every year. When completed, the ACCS will fill twenty-seven volumes encompassing the entire canon of Scripture plus the Apocrypha. In each volume readers will find the Scripture text in English placed in the setting of the finest commentary from the early church.

The ACCS seeks to do for the Christian community what the Talmud did for the Jewish memory of early interpreters of the Torah. It revives the early tradition of the glossa ordinaria, a text artfully elaborated with ancient and seasoned reflections and insights.


Today's readers of the Bible tend to interpret Scripture primarily through the lenses of modern-day rationalist inquiry. As products of Enlightenment modernity, contemporary readers are often limited by late twentieth-century interpretations of Scripture. Yet this has not always been so. Long before the rise of historical-critical methods of biblical interpretation, the church unabashedly read the Bible through the eyes of faith, with uncommon spiritual and devotional insight. Even Reformation commentators such as Luther or Calvin recognized the sterling value of the writings of early church leaders such as Ambrose or Augustine.

However, today's students of the Bible rarely access these writings. Thomas Oden says, "We have bright, intelligent, articulate New Testament scholars in our seminaries who have never once cracked John Chrysostom's homilies, who wouldn't know how to find them." Many such materials are not readily available to students of the Bible, and some have never been translated into English.

In recent years, many have sensed the need for a Christian faith that is more historically rooted. The ACCS provides an understanding of Scripture that stands in continuity with the pioneering Christians from the early centuries of the church. In the church's pilgrimage to rediscover its ancient Christian heritage, the ACCS is a resource that reconnects the twenty-first century church with the wisdom of the ages.


Volume editors of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture together constitute an exceptional team of ecumenical and international patristic scholars. They are reviewing and selecting exegesis and exposition from ancient commentaries as well as the entire range of partristic writings, including sermons, homilies, letters and theological discourses. Material is being gleaned from writings from the second to the eighth centuries, including comments from well-known early church leaders as well as lesser-known commentators, some of which are being translated into English for the first time. In addition, experts in early Christian Coptic and Syriac texts are identifying pertinent exegetical material for inclusion in the commentary.


This foray into the past has been made possible by the technology of the present. "Prior to the technology of digital search methods and storage techniques, this series could hardly have been thought of, and certainly not accomplished short of a vast army of researchers working by laborious hand-and-paper searches in selected libaries around the world," says Oden. The ACCS project utilizes computerized searches of the ancient Greek and Latin patristic corpus to identify scriptural interpretation from which commentary selections are drawn.


Twenty-first century biblical scholars, exegetes, pastors, students and readers of Scripture will gain unequaled access to the finest exegesis of the early Christian centuries, including leading figures such as Athanasius, Augustine, Jerome and John of Damascus. Readers from Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions alike will benefit from the insights of their common Christian ancestors.

The ACCS opens up a long-forgotten passage through post-Enlightenment critical interpretation and bears us along to a fertile valley basking in the sunshine of theological and spiritual interpretation. It provides timely service to the church and the academy by reclaiming classic Christian commentary of the whole canon for a postcritical age.

In the twenty-seven volumes to come, readers are invited into the interpretive world that long nurtured the great pastors, theologians and saints of the early church. Here the salient insight, rhetorical power and consensual exegesis of our early Christian ancestors meets the horizon of the third millennium.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
I was looking for a good clear set of Patristic commentators that would stand on their own. Whilst it's great to read their words I was a bit disappointed by the introduction where we are clearly guided along the path that the Early Church Fathers wimped out on election and only Augustine had the nerve to teach it right. I thought the more commonly held interpretation was that the earlier Fathers did not mention this much, as they didn't actually believe in the view that Augustine came to hold later in his life. This possibility, and that Augustine was actually bringing in a form of determinism unknown to the early church, as part of a systematic defence against Pelagius, is not mentioned as a possibility, which seems curious as Thomas Oden's writings on the classical christian consensus clearly indicate he himself holds to a Wesleyan Arminian view on these things, and leaves Augustine's more extreme views out of his work. I was hoping to hear the Fathers speak for themselves a bit more.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a great disappointment. The concept is great: collecting Christian commentary on the book of Romans from the first eight centuries of the Church. However, the "Christian" commentary includes far more selections from authors considered heretical than from those venerated as Saints and Fathers of the Church. For example, St. Athanasios and St. Gregory the Theologian are quoted only once each. St. Maximos is completely ignored. St. John of Damascus and St. Gregory of Nyssa have about a half dozen quotes each. Of the great Fathers of the Church, only St. John Chrysostom and St. Cyril of Alexandria are well represented. Instead of quotes from the Church Fathers, the editors give us hundreds of quotes from Pelagios, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Origen, Tertullian, the Montanist Oracle, etc. So, if you want quotes from those commonly considered heretics, buy this volume. If, however, you want commentary from the Fathers of the Church, look elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover
Of the 2 other reviews, one slams it for being too conservative, the other for including too many heretics within its selection.Which suggests that the book is about right!.
In fact the commentrary is an invaluable resource in knowing and understanding the Patristics.Of particular value are the comments of Ambrosiaster who manages to sound like the young Luther.Do buy it.
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Format: Hardcover
Hmmmm.... J.I. Packer, Thomas Oden, and Timothy George giving "advance praise." My first question, after seeing that Intervarsity Press was the publisher of this series, was, "What are conservative evangelicals doing reading the Fathers?" After perusing the Romans commentary, I can see that they haven't, at least in any diverse way. The idea that the "Fathers" were a monolithic entity who were in agreement on "exegesis" runs throughout this book, as well as the Romans volume. Any trained exgete will know that this is madness--there has only been one period in the church when views and scholarship were more multifarious than the present age: the Patristic period!
The particular sort of scholarship as well as the conservative (read: unrepresentative of biblical scholarship as a whole) intent of the series is indicated in a cover blurb from Richard John Neuhaus (NOT a conservative evangelical). Can you detect the ideological underpinnings of the ACCS from this perjorative sentence?: "In the desert of biblical scholarship that tries to deconstruct or get behind the texts, the patristic commentators let the pure, clear waters of Christian faith flow from its scriptural source." Goodness, is that really what is going on in the ACCS? Which Fathers, may I ask--Origen? Universally ignored or maligned in conservative seminaries (the largest of which in the world I am a product), Origen is one of the few really interesting voices in the ACCS, but only his least "dangerous" commentary is allowed in the series, it seems. Same for the Cappadocians, and many others. In any event, it is no "commentary" at all--which manuscripts were being commented on?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9bd5db88) out of 5 stars 17 reviews
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cd181e0) out of 5 stars A place to begin 1 Feb. 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The ACCS series, of which this volume on Romans is a part, is a place to begin in terms of patristic commentary, not a place to end. If this series had claimed to be an in-depth and comprehensive collection on the Church Fathers' statements on Scripture, then many of the critiques leveled at it would be justified. However, these negative reviews are aiming at a straw man.
The ACCS series provides selected commentary by various thinkers in the early centuries of Christianity regarding the various books of the Bible. Even with its selectivity, these books are hundreds of pages long (compared to the at most thirty or so pages of the actual Scriptural text). To try and be as comprehensive as some reviewers seem to be demanding, the volume on Romans would no doubt have to be at least three large volumes itself.
The series creators hoped these volumes could help encourage cross-denominational discussion with these formative thinkers. It is a starting place for thinking and discussing, not the end. Perhaps the best use of these volumes are as time-savers. Even the best Patristics scholar will not have the location of every comment on a particular Scripture verse by the Fathers right of the top of his/her head. And they may not want to spend the time of going through the index of, say, every volume in the Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers series (all, what, 28 of them?). Instead, the scholar can look quickly at this volume from the ACCS, looking to see what various Fathers had to say, then go to the original document to see the topic in context, where the various commentaries can be compared. Certainly, the ACCS volume on Romans is useful for that.
If one is looking for every comment from every Church Father on Scripture, this is not the series for you. But, then again, that's not what this series intended to be in the first place. But, as a starting place for further research, it is excellent.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c443abc) out of 5 stars Balanced Patristic Commentary 12 July 2006
By jlmagruder - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is discouraging to read some negative reviews printed twice under the same name and to see so many negative reviews without details under "reader."

This commentary indeed includes condemned heretics like Origen and Theodore of Mopsuestia. However, Origen was described by Gregory of Nyssa as the "touchstone of us all" and continued to be influential as a biblical critic throughout the Middle Ages. Theodore of Mopsuestia and Tertullian were similarly influential. Before the Muslim conquests and Iconoclasm ossified positions among Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and so-called Oriental Orthodox Christians, these were the writers who were widely read, admired - and yes - sometimes refuted.

I recommend it as an adjunct to the International Critical Commentary (ICC). Skip the Anchor commentary, which covers much of its liberal bias, and commentaries from conservative publishers that do the same. Use the ICC to uncover the scholarly issues of our day and the ACCS as a pastoral voice, generally in agreement but hardly monolithic, from before the medieval controversies. Since the editor (a Baptist, I believe) has rendered a number of translations himself, it always is worth going to the original sources (preferably in the original language) to follow up on what is attractive, disturbing or unclear.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c443a68) out of 5 stars Don't Be Put Off!!! 7 May 2006
By John Todd Fisher - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In light of all the negative reviews below, I'd like to add another perspective. While I do agree that there is a need for a more in-depth and scholarly collection of ancient comments on Scripture (yes, Anchor would probably do a fine job), this series is a great resource for the busy pastor. When I was in seminary, or in positions where I wasn't preaching every week, going to the original documents was expected and even enjoyable. But as the pastor of a church plant, I'm thrilled to have these books to quickly see how my interpretations (and those of modern commentators) square with the thoughts of our ancient brethren.

If you're an academic, a student, or want to really wrestle with what the ancients had to say, then yes, a more extensive collection is desirable. But if you're pressured with the weekly grind of preaching, yet still want to take your congregation a bit deeper, these commentaries can be a real blessing.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c443e04) out of 5 stars Quick Reference Commentary 19 Feb. 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Produced by mainly Protestants with some consultation by Catholics the volumes are limited in scope and selective to what material they cover from the Fathers of the Church. Translations are sometimes questionable, but as the old axiom goes "the translator betrays" and all translators must make decisions that will not always be accepted by others.

For its limited scope these are fine volumes worthy of any non-scholars shelf as a help in formulating education series, sermons, homilies, articles, or other work. They provide a very approachable format to learn how some of the Fathers of the Church interpreted the Bible. The front material is weak and not comprehensive and the biographical data on the fathers, while present, is very short. A subject index is also included.

For the student I would use this volume as a regular high school or undergraduate research tool, and a starter tool for graduate or post graduate work. Serious scholars will need to look to other materials such as the ICC and original sources. This commentary alone is not sufficient.

For a specific example, passages such as Romans 3:23, 6:23, 8:28-30, and others are left wanting in the included commentary. The included quotations at times simply don't offer much or don't appear to give an adequate summary of Early Christian Thought. The Fathers appear ambiguous in the selected quotations on the meaning of the passages, when in fact a fuller study reveals a shared unity and method of interpretation among the orthodox (read: right belief) fathers (See Williamson's study on interpretation in the Church Catholic Principles for Interpreting Scripture: A Study of the Pontifical Biblical Commission's the Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (Subsidia Biblica, 22)).

Other good resources on the Fathers:
The Early Church (The Penguin History of the Church) (v. 1)
The Fathers of the Church, Expanded Edition
Faith of the Early Fathers: Three-Volume Set
The Early Church Fathers (38 Vols.)

All said I do RECOMMEND this series.
24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c443a8c) out of 5 stars Reading Scripture With the Early Church 5 Jan. 2000
By Robert Woods - Published on
Format: Hardcover
After 20 years of reading and studying the Bible, I have never been more encouraged with a commentary series. The study on Romans is exceptional! I am neither Roman Catholic or Protestant and have found this Ancient Christian Commentary series a BLESSING. I had grown weary of the Reformation, Lutheran, Calvinist readings of scripture. It is so encouraging and refreshing to see what the first 3 centuries thought about Romans before Christianity became Christendumb (sic).
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