Study

A good word from John Webster to all students (not just of theology).

Assumed Audience:

Theologically-orthodox Christians, or folks interested in things that theologically-orthodox Christians think.

A good word for all who would learn and study:

Study is the contemplative element of the university. Study is close mental application to something’; it is not necessarily close mental application to something new. Study is not coterminous with research, which has to do with the acquisition of new knowledge. Study may be the application of intelligence to the absorption of what has been known, that is, to the inhabitation of tradition. Study of this kind is far from passive conformity; it is a performance’ of tradition, neither wholly spontaneous and original nor wholly devoid of appropriation. Such study forms the powers of understanding and judgement which in turn serve discovery of the new.

 — “The Dignity of Creatures”, in God Without Measure: Working Papers in Christian Theology  —  Volume II: Virtue and Intellect, John Webster, p. 163 (quoting Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, IIaIIae.166.1 resp.)

This is not just true of theology, but of all kinds of study. I was thinking just last night how important it is for software developers to learn the history of our field, to read essays and papers from the past. In every field, it is that immersion in the past — in what we as a people have already learned — that forms the powers of understanding and judgement which in turn serve discovery of the new.”