Theology in the Church I

The Fathers argue that biblical interpretation is an ecclesiastical activity to be practiced in the church and for the church within the context of prayer and worship (9). . . . Neither Athanasius nor Gregory envisioned exegesis or theology as the academic activity of biblical scholars or theologians divorced from the life of the church or personal spiritual formation. Rather, the fathers believed, the best exegesis occurs within the community of the church (42). . . . The fathers were serious theologians, but their primary vocation was as pastors within the church. Many were leading bishops. Their theology and exegesis possesses a marked pastoral emphasis and concern and is immensely practical. . . . As shepherds of the church they theologized, prayed and preached with the needs and concerns of the church at heart. . . . theology was not seen as a profession or occupation in the first millennium. It was seen more as a concomitant of pastoral care (54-55). . . . Exegesis and theological exploration have become technical skills often practiced in separation from the life of the Christian community and the history of that community's reading of Scripture over the centuries (72) . . . . Patristic exegetes conducted their work in the church for the church, an idea foreign to many modern scholars who conduct their work in the academy and largely for the academy (195). [From Christopher Hall's Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers]

"Suffice it to say that the academy is not the only setting for the study of Scripture. Scripture qua Scripture--as opposed to merely being the literature of ancient Israel together with some early Christian writings--finds its most appropriate home in the church as the people of God in the context of the worship of God." [Graham Cole in He Who Gives Life, 110]