Lent: A good time to start to Read the Fathers

The Good Shepherd, Catacomb of Priscilla

I should have posted this before Sunday, when we started reading The Shepherd of Hermas in Read the Fathers, but I was too busy gawking at the art at the Uffizi and taking the train to Milan on Sunday. These things happen. Nevertheless …

Many people in Lent, rather than — or in addition to — giving something up, take something on. Some pray more. Some read more Scripture or focus on a particular book of Scripture. Some people read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book. Some people Read the Fathers.

This past Sunday would have been the ideal time to join us. We started reading the mid-second-century text called The Shepherd by Hermas. It’s not especially long, and neither are the daily readings (unlike with Irenaeus). It was very popular in its day, and many people thought maybe it should be in the Bible — as evidenced by its presence in the Bible codex called ‘Sinaiticus.’ But the Muratorian Fragment and a few others said that, while The Shepherd is a useful and interesting book, it is not Scripture.

It’s certainly an interesting read, and a window into a different side of second-century Christianity than Ignatius or Justin provides. This interestingness, with insights into our forebears in the faith is precisely what you can expect if you join (or re-join) us at Read the Fathers — where we are reading through most of the Fathers over seven years!

And Lent is the perfect excuse to start a good, new habit that you can maintain beyond Easter! This is how I’m using Lent this year, something I hope to blog about soon. You see, in Lent we are used to taking on something extra, used to refocussing our spiritual and mental habits. So, if you’ve always wanted to read through a lot of the Church Fathers, if you start now, you can into the habit and keep it going beyond Easter.

One thought on “Lent: A good time to start to Read the Fathers

  1. […] We’ve been quiet here on the Read the Fathers blog for the last few weeks. If Facebook, Twitter, RSS, and e-mail subscriptions are any indication, though, many of you are still reading, and maybe some new folks have joined us. In the past few weeks, we’ve had a big accomplishment: we finished the long and demanding text Against Heresies by Irenaeus of Lyons. We’ve also finished the first of the volumes in the Ante-Nicene Fathers; only thirty-six more volumes to go! Right now we’re in the midst of a few minor authors: The Shepherd of Hermas (not so minor, actually), Tatian the Assyrian, Theophilus of Antioch, and Athenagoras the Athenian. After that we tackle Clement of Alexandia, for whom we’ll have a proper introductory post. I might be able to work something up about the Shepherd of Hermas (see Scholiast’s post). […]

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