Patristics and Pastoral Preaching

In his volume on Jeremiah and Lamentations in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Dean Wenthe makes this comment:

“It should also be noted that for all their imaginative and intellectual capacities, the Fathers remained pastors. Their use of the sacred Scriptures was not the abstract debate of the academy but the concrete pastoral care and nurture of the church. Hence, their use of the Old and New Testaments is shaped by churchly needs. Homilies, catechesis, apologetic and liturgy are prominent. Even the few commentaries are deeply pastoral in that their exposition addresses the church’s life.” (xix-xx)

I think this serves not only as a description of these leaders of the past but also as the goal for us today. May the same be said of us. I don’t know if anyone else is like me, but I remember thinking early on in my training that this deep connection to actual church life was a limitation of people’s work- they were not able to step back and analyze more objectively. I now see the folly of my thinking, and this description is what I have in mind when I talk about “pastoral preaching” and the way in which oversight impacts preaching.

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