Fathers of the Church Series in Logos, Part 1: Ancient Commentaries

Logos recently updated their Fathers of the Church (144 vols.) series, and I think this resource clearly demonstrates the benefits of building a digital library in Logos Bible Software. Reading and research can be done in a variety of ways, and I think it is important to take advantage of the unique benefits of each and every method—both print and digital books are wonderful. We don’t have to choose between one or the other. While you might want to read many of these volumes cover-to-cover in physical, print editions, Logos greatly enhances the accessibility of the Fathers of the Church series (FC). Logos is the only Bible Software platform to offer FC, and in this series of posts I want to demonstrate why Logos is the ideal format in which to own FC.

Each post in this series will discuss (1) how you can access and interact with FC in Logos and (2) the content of individual volumes. In this first post, let’s take a look at the how owning the series in Logos adds depth to your typical commentary lineup.

Access to Ancient Commentaries

Modern works like the Anchor-Yale Bible Commentary fill the commentary section of most people’s library. Anchor-Yale is a fantastic series, but those volumes don’t always provide insight into the history of interpretation. Even when they do, you get a summary of ancient perspectives at best. If you have access to the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, as helpful as this series is, it only offers snippets and quotes from certain ancient authors. FC, however, gives you access to the full context of some of the most important ancient commentaries on scripture.

Logos has indexed FC so that several of these volumes show up in the commentaries section of their passage guide. To see which volumes are considered commentaries, you can type series:"fathers of the church" AND type:commentary into the library like you see here:

Tweaking the library display a little and setting it to detailed view shows all twenty-two commentary volumes:

I think it’s neat that you can also switch the display to show a cover view of the series:

I have FC prioritized in my library above all other commentaries so that when I run a passage guide I can immediately see what ancient voices I have access to alongside the standard, modern commentaries. In the screenshot below, you can see that for Matthew 5 FC offers three commentaries: Hilary of Poitiers, Jerome, and Augustine.

For Revelation 1, we find Andrew of Caesarea, Tyconius of Carthage, and Oecumenius.

If you are not familiar with these ancient authors, Logos’s Factbook is a great place to start. For example, take a look at the Factbook entry for Hilary of Poitiers, whose commentary on Matthew shows up first in a passage guide for Matthew 5. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church describes Hilary as “the Athanasius of the West.”

Opening the FC volume and reading a little of the introduction, we discover that Hilary’s commentary on the Gospel of Matthew is “the first full Latin commentary on the Gospel to be preserved,” and it is therefore important for “reconstructing the exegetical and intellectual history of the west during the 350s.”

FC offers modern English translations of these important works with editorial introductions and helpful comments along the way in the hyperlinked footnotes. The quality of the series is fitting for academic research and at the same time helpful for pastors and teachers.

Let’s take a closer look at one volume in the series, Jerome’s commentary on Matthew.

Jerome’s Commentary on Matthew

Jerome’s commentary on Matthew was published in 2008 and translated by Thomas Scheck of Ave Maria University. Here is the title page to give you a sense of the fantastic editorial board behind the series:

Scheck’s volumes includes a 48-page introduction discussing Jerome’s context, the commentary’s origin, Jerome’s exegetical methods, and a sketch of themes found throughout.

Let’s take a look now at Jerome’s commentary on Matthew 6.

Jerome on Matthew 6:1–10

You can open a copy of your favorite bible alongside the passage guide and commentary. Here, I have the ESV and NA28 open using the multiple resources display, which we will come back to below.

I want to demonstrate some of the insights a volume like this can offer, so below is a collection of Jerome’s comments on Matthew 6.

Matthew 6:2

Jerome helpfully notes that in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew’s conception of a hypocrite is a little different than how we think of it today. For Matthew, hypocrisy isn’t necessarily about saying one thing and doing another. It’s about what’s going on inside a person.

Matthew 6:6–7

Jerome makes an interesting connection between Jesus’s instructions on prayer and Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:13:

βατταλογέω (to babble on and on) is my favorite Greek word, and here Jerome has this to say about it: “One who is a Christian ought to say little. For God is a hearer not of words but of the heart,” a reference to Wisdom of Solomon 1:6 according to the Scheck. Clicking on footnote 167 and hovering over the reference displays the verse in a pop-up. Clicking the verse reference opens Wisdom of Solomon in both the NRSV and Rahlfs’ Septuagint in a parallel “multiple resources display.”

The reason these resources opened when clicking a verse reference has to do with my own resource prioritization. You can find out more about prioritizing resources in your library here.

Matthew 6:10

Jerome notes that honestly praying “Thy kingdom come” is itself an expression of trust in God.

If you take a look at the second highlight above, you’ll notice that Jerome takes a shot at people who think Matthew 6:10 fits with the idea that angels regularly fall from heaven. Scheck points out that this pugilistic comment might be directed toward Origen.

Viewing Multiple Versions in Logos

In his comments on Matthew 6:11, Jerome discusses a couple words that occur only once in the Latin and Greek Bible—supersubstantialis and ἐπούσιος. This is an instance when you might want to see the Latin, Greek, and English side-by-side, and it’s a great opportunity to demonstrate one of my favorite features of Logos. The multiple resources display is a feature unique to Logos giving you quick access to a completely customizable list of alternate versions in their fully tagged formats.

Here, within the ESV itself I have opened NA28 and Logos’s tagged Clementine Vulgate.

By clicking on the Greek word ἐπούσιον, Logos highlights the corresponding English and Latin word, as well. To tell Logos you want this sort of cross-highlighting to happen, you simply select the check boxes beside “corresponding words” and “same lemma” in the visual filters menu.

You might also want to see Weber’s SESB Biblia Sacra Vulgata, a modern critical edition of the Vulgate. To do so you just click the multiple resources display button, type vulgate, and select it from the drop down.

I love the compact dispaly this view offer, and I love how easily you can toggle this display on and off within your preferred Bible. I keep my favorite ancient language versions selected at all times, and when I want to see those versions along side my preferred translation, one click gives me access to each ancient version with morphological tagging. When I hover my cursor over ἐπούσιον, I can see the tagged info at the bottom left of the screen.

The tagging isn’t just important for getting access to morphological data. It means that with these particular ancient versions, even though they are displayed within my preferred translation, I can double-click and jump to a lexicon. Here, I jumped straight from NA28 to The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek.

Double-clicing inducas immediately opens The Oxford Latin Dictionary to the induco entry.

A triple-click, however, runs a search, finding all the inflected forms of a lemma.

When I’m finished and want to return to a more focused, single-version display, I simply click the multiple resources display button to hide the ancient versions.

Jerome on Matthew 6:11–26

Let’s return to the content of Jerome’s commentary on Matthew 6.

Matthew 6:11

In the screenshots below, it is noteworthy that Jerome comments on two of the ancient Greek versions known as “The Three”—Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. These are Jewish, Greek translations of the Old Testament that were done after the original Greek translation commonly called the Septuagint. Information on these translations is not easy to find, and the church fathers are an important source.

Matthew 6:21–23

It’s interesting to me that Jerome applies this verse not only to money but also to the passions.

Jerome highlights Jesus’s concern for the internal orientation of one’s heart, which is a very prominent topic in this section of the Sermon.

Matthew 6:26

When Jesus says “Look at the birds of the air,” Jerome understands the instruction literally, in contrast to some interpreters who interpret the birds allegorically.

Conclusion

I hope this first post gives you a better sense of how you can access and interact with FC in Logos Bible Software. Logos is the ideal platform for accessing this series for a number of reasons. The passage guide and the multiple versions display feature make interacting with the volumes seamless, but in the next post I’ll illustrate Logos’s ancient literature guide. This feature is the primary reason I consider Logos the ideal platform for FC.

FC is a massive collection of 144 volumes, and Logos has done a great job breaking the set down and integrating portions of it into their base packages. You can take a look at several of the individual bundles here.

If you are interested in checking out Logos for the first time, a basic version of Logos 9 is available for free here.