Chrysostom on the Value of Scripture Reading

“Hearken, I entreat you, all ye that are careful for this life, and procure books that will be medicines for the soul. If ye will not any other, yet get you at least the New Testament, the Apostolic Epistles, the acts, the Gospels, for your constant teachers. If grief befall thee, dive into them as into a chest of medicines; take thence comfort of thy trouble, be it loss, or death, or bereavement of relations; or rather dive not into them merely but take them wholly to thee; keep them in thy mind.

This is the cause of all evils, the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, and how ought we to come off safe?”
(Homily 9, on Colossians 3:16-17)

I probably should just let this beautiful statement stand on its own, but here are two small observations.

First, note that individuals at this early date are encouraged to obtain their own copies of the scriptures. Personal, private reading goes back further than is sometimes suggested.

Second, while Chrysostom urges Bible reading as the ultimate medicine, he also encourages the reading of other good books- “If ye will not any other, yet get you at least the New Testament.” The Bible is primary, but the use of other helpful books is commended as well.

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