Introducing ‘With Meagre Powers’

I’ve decided to start this new blog, so I thought I’d give a little bit of an intro.

My name is George Athas. I teach at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia. I lecture in Hebrew and Old Testament, and dabble a bit in Early Church History. I’m also the college’s Director of Postgraduate Studies. And here’s the odd bit: I’m an evangelical Anglican of Greek descent!

I’m starting the blog as a place where I can air some thoughts about topics I’ve been thinking about. Most of the time, those thoughts are going to be about biblical studies, theology, Hebrew, and the Ancient Near East. But hey, I’m not going to limit myself. I’m hoping to generate some conversations about the topics that interest me, so I hope that people will feel free to respond. I’m just trying to knock around ideas, and would appreciate some conversation partners that might help me in refining, correcting, or even confirming my thoughts.

Why is the blog called With Meagre Powers? Well, in his Confessions, Augustine writes the following paragraph:

Augustine by Boticelli

The message of your Holy Scriptures has set my heart throbbing, O Lord, and with the meagre powers that are mine in this life I struggle to understand it. The poverty of our human intellect generally produces an abundance of words, for more talk is spent in search than in discovery. It takes longer to ask than to obtain. But we have your promise and who shall annul it? ‘Who can be our adversary if, if God is on our side?’ ‘Ask, and the gift will come; seek and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you. Everyone that asks, will receive; that seeks, will find; that knocks, will have the door opened to him.’ These are your promises, and who need fear to be deceived when Truth promises? (Confessions, XII.1)

Here I see Augustine giving sanction to the careful and thoughtful inquiry after truth through the interrogation of the Scriptures. I believe that God has given us the faculties of our minds to be able to ask good questions, apply sound reason, and occasionally find answers. Applying rigorous and sound academic study to the Bible and its world is, I believe, rewarding. It’s hard, but very worthwhile. So, I’m hoping to apply my meagre powers in the struggle to understand the Bible and its world, hoping that others might join me in the struggle.


13 thoughts on “Introducing ‘With Meagre Powers’

  1. I have a question- I am not a scholar nor do I have the time and energy to seek out people who ‘know’ the scriptures, though I read them and they nourish my walk with Christ.
    You conclude this passage is about searching and studying the scriptures? Doesn’t his heart throb because the scriptures have already shown him something? That they declare that seeking and finding is about a living experience of God? That an encounter with God is what the scriptures promise?
    If it is true what you say, then I am supposing none of us might have a mature, vital relationship with God unless we spend our time being scholars. Many of us do not have access to scholarly teaching form the pulpit ( watered down as it often seems to be ).
    An extreme interpretation of your suggestion perhaps, but one that comes to mind .

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Rose. Yes, I agree that Augustine is writing from the point of view of a mature Christian. He knows God through the Scriptures, and this is by no means the preserve of scholars. However, Augustine does seem to want to keep asking questions so as to know more, because he loves God. This, I believe, is the basic endeavour of theology: asking questions in order to know more about God. Receiving answers to the questions does not guarantee a closer relationship with God, but sometimes it can contribute. I certainly do believe that since God is God, his revelation is worth studying with some rigour.

      • ‘Receiving answers to the questions does not guarantee a closer relationship with God,’
        ‘ asking questions in order to know more about God’

        Maybe asking questions is a sign of life and growth and the prerequisite for maturing and openness to God.
        I do hope though that the purpose of scripture questing is to know God rather than simply know about God.

  2. …of Greek decent, and Hebrew even more decent.

    I’ll try to keep an eye out for typos for you, if you like. I live to serve.

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