"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

March 8, 2012

Variegated beauty

Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 9:20 am

Cassiodorus and Augustine were the only patristic authors who left complete commentaries on the Psalms; but whereas in Augustine’s there’a lightning-flash of insight on every other page, Cassiodorus’ insights come much less frequently. Unlike Augustine, who was explaining the Psalms to his people, Cassiodorus was writing for monks, and one gets the impression that he was trying to help them overcome the boredom that can come from over-familiarity.

Although Psalm Ps 51[52] is a duplicate of Psalm 13[14], Cassiodorus gives two different interpretations of the one Psalm, and at the conclusion of his commentary, a reflection on sameness and difference uses some lovely images of the variegated beauty of the Scriptures:

We ought to give careful attention to the differences and similarities in these two psalms [Ps 51(52) and Ps 13(14)], where the same words yield different understandings. The clearest evidence of the brilliance of the Scriptures is that in the same words we are to understand different realities of the one faith. If gems radiate different light and colors, if birds are bright with varied colors, if the same body of a chameleon appears green at one moment, blue at another, rosy at another, pale at another, why should the Scriptures not have different understandings; after all, they are often compared to abysses. The sea shimmers differently as it ripples. This is why the orthodox Fathers say different things about a passage, and yet all of them are listened to with benefit. That’s why one of ours [St. Jerome] said: “The Scriptures are a pearl that can be pierced from every side.” (Cassiodorus on Ps 52, conclusion; PL 70, 381)


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: