I have recently thought of writing a post about the whole phenomenon of blogging, and of social media more generally. This isn’t that post, which may or may not get written. It is no secret that I have been neglecting this blog – largely because I simply am too busy, but also because I’m a little unclear what direction it should take and am aware that it could fulfill different functions if I had the time. I generally have all sorts of ideas about things to write on, but turning that into reality isn’t so simple. However, one fairly important purpose of the blog has been that it has at times helped me to process or simply to record what I read, and I have found this a valuable aid in promoting a certain discipline and seriousness in reading, even if I do have a tendency to go into too much detail and then become overwhelmed at the thought of trying to summarise something.
There is no way that I am going to be able to produce long summaries of serious works in the near future. However, I have been concerned recently that my reading has become scattered and have realised that I need to focus on something short and manageable and that regular blogging can be a valuable aid to this – and I hope that those do not become my famous last words!
Saint Irenaeus’ On the Apostolic Preaching recently arrived in the post (Father John Behr’s translation published in the Popular Patristics Series). Some years ago I had read through this with a group I was teaching in the monastery and was surprised at how well we all resonated with it. I have since thought that it would be good to return to it, and also that it could form a helpful basis for introducing people both to the faith of the Church and to an Orthodox understanding of Scripture. Whether anything comes of that remains to be seen, but I have decided to read through it slowly during what remains of Lent (although it will probably take longer than that) and to try and write regular short posts on it.
This does not purport to be a scholarly reading (and I am writing this in Cape Town while all my patristics books, such as they are, are in Robertson, so I can’t even look things up). But for anyone interested who doesn’t know anything about Saint Irenaeus, he was bishop of Lyon in the last quarter of second century. He was originally from Smyrna and had known Saint Polycarp, who had known Saint John the Apostle. This link to the apostles was very important to him and, in his major contribution in countering the heresy of Gnosticism, he was to appeal to the Rule of Faith that is passed on in the visible Church, and made a major contribution in clarifying the basis of the Church’s faith. (I have touched on this here, here and here).
In this book, which was lost until the beginning of the twentieth century, Irenaeus sets out the content of the Rule of Faith that he had received from the apostles.