Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Reformed Irenicism

“What Is the Best Method for Studying Theology?” (Part 4)

Chytraeus continues by remarking (again) on the importance of the summa for rightly learning theology–it gives, as it were, pegs on which we can hang all the various bits of theological information. He then turns to the importance of philology and study of the ancient languages. Knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is not, for Chytraeus, helpful or recommended, but necessary (necessaria). Not only does it allow one to draw doctrine straight from the source, but also, as Chytraeus strikingly phrases it, to hold untranslated conversation with Christ, the prophets, and Apostles.

2. SUMMA DOCTRINAE Christianae, continens praecipuos articulos pia & erudita methodo expositos, animo complectenda est: ad quos omnia, quae in Theologia, legimus, audimus, discimus, dextre referantur. Hanc commodissime ex libello Examinis vel locorum Theologicorum assidue & attente lecto & relecto, studiosi discent.1

3. LINGUAE Ebraeae & Graecae cognitio necessaria est, ut ex fontibus, veram de Deo doctrinam haurire, & cum Filio Dei, Prophetis & Apostolis sine interprete colloqui possimus.

  1. The summary of Christian doctrine, containing the chief articles expounded by a pious and learned pedagogical method, must be grasped by the mind. To these chief articles everything which we read, hear, [and] learn in theology should be rightly related. Students will learn this [summary] most advantageously from continuously and attentively reading and re-reading the little book of the Examen or Loci theologici.

  2. The knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek languages is necessary, in order that we may be able to draw from its sources the true doctrine concerning God and to converse with the Son of God, the prophets, and the Apostles without a translator.

  1. The older edition translated by Dinda reads the subjunctive discant.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.