There are certain theologians that are acknowledged as brilliant, whose works tower over the millennia influencing millions. It is often suggested that one should pick a great thinker from history and immerse yourself in their works, getting to know them inside and out. For the longest time, I haven’t been able to pick one, though I think I’m starting to narrow in on Augustine.
The problem is, there isn’t time enough to immerse deeply enough. His works are immense. Is it enough to have read them through once? Twice? Should one commit certain works to memory? Should I learn to read the original Latin? How deep is deep enough in the mind of a great thinker? What about his life and times? The historical and cultural background? His friends and his adversaries? His influences? Should one read those secondary works as well in order more fully grasp the man himself?
And further, what of his interpreters? What of Aquinas or Calvin, great theologians in their own right? What of the interpreters of Calvin on Augustine? Or Calvin in contrast to Aquinas on Augustine?
And ultimately, what of the ultimate source, the Triune God and his revelation in Scripture? What did Augustine see of him? What did Calvin see in light of what Augustine saw of him? What have I seen in light of what Calvin saw in light of what Augustine saw of the Triune God?
For those of us who are so inclined, the bookish types, I suspect heaven will feature the greatest library the universe has ever seen with an accompanying scriptorium down the block. (None of it’s works will be digital.) There one could spend as many years as they’d like immersed in the works of Augustine’s various works, then as many as he’d like on each of the various related subjects. He may write his own works at each and every stage. Those works, in turn, might be studied.
A never ending process of knowing and being known which centers ultimately on the God who has made himself known to and through his people will increase accompanied with ever increasing delight. The time will never flatten out into monotonous boredom, but the complexities of thought and of delight will increase unimpeded forever.
I suspect I might spend a few eons in the library, before heading over to the basketball courts…