Attitude Towards Secular Learning

Posted on Thursday, October 4th, 2012 at 11:28

 

(Saint) Gregory of Tours

Let’s move on to the 6th century C.E. and the very famous (Saint) Gregory of Tours (November 30, c. 538 – November 17, 594), to whom we are truly indebted for writing The History of the Franks, the major historical source for the period. The Roman Empire in the West is no more, and we are now officially in the Middle Ages; that period of the Middle Ages formerly know as the Dark Ages. For various reasons most historians no longer like that term. I’m not sure I agree with them.

 

Book in Honour of the Martyrs: Preface

THE priest Jerome, next to the apostle Paul the best teacher of the church, tells us that he was brought before the judgment­seat of the eternal Judge and subjected to torture and severely punished because he was in the habit of reading Cicero’s clevernesses and Vergil’s lies, and that he said in the presence of the holy angels and the very Ruler of all that he would never thereafter read these, but would occupy himself in future only with such [writings] as would be judged worthy of God and suited to the edification of the Church. Moreover the apostle Paul says: “Let us follow after things which make for peace and things whereby we may edify me another.” And elsewhere: “Let no corrupt speech proceed out f your mouth; but such as is good for edifying, that it may give race to them that hear.” Therefore we too ought to follow after, to write, and to speak the things that edify the church of God, and with holy instruction bring weak minds to a knowledge of the perfect faith. And we ought not to relate lying tales nor to pursue the wisdom of philosophers that is hateful to God, lest by God’s judgment we fall under sentence of eternal death.

 

Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, trans. Ernest Brehaut (extended selections), Records of Civilization 2, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1916)

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