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Ancient Wisdom in Modern Verse Based on Texts from Greek and Latin Poets, Philosophers, Playwrights, Historians, and Early Church Fathers/Mothers

Ancient Wisdom in Modern Verse Based on Texts from Greek and Latin Poets, Philosophers, Playwrights, Historians, and Early Church Fathers/Mothers

By S T Kimbrough, Jr.Publisher: Wipf and Stock PublishersISBN: 9781666785449Genre: PoetryPrice: PB $13; Kindle $7.99

The wisdom of ancient sages, many of whom predate the Christian era, particularly historians, philosophers, playwrights, and poets of Greece, but also many of the wise early church fathers and mothers continue to be a source of insight into life well lived. This book of poems gleans some of their gems and views them through the lens of contemporary language and experience.
In addition to the wisdom of early Greek sages, there is here a significant number of quotations from the apostolic fathers and the post-apostolic fathers/mothers. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of sons, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen. From the so-called “Golden Age” of Christianity (fourth to eighth centuries) there are comments from Basil (bishop of Caesarea), Gregory (bishop of Nazianzus), Gregory (bishop of Nyssa), Isidore (bishop of Pelusium), and Maximus the Confessor. From the Latin fathers of the same period there are selections from Tertullian, Augustine (bishop of Hippo), and from the Syria fathers Ephrem the Syrian and Isaac (bishop of Nineveh). From the desert fathers and mothers there are excerpts from Symeon the New Theologian and Amma Theodora.
These poetic paraphrases of ancient wisdom are shared with the hope that they are faithful to these servants of knowledge and faith, and that they will continue to enhance life’s meaning today.

S T Kimbrough, Jr., holds a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary and is currently a research fellow of the Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition of Duke Divinity School. He has taught on leading theological faculties in Europe (Bonn University, Germany) and in the USA (Princeton, New Brunswick, Wesley [Washington, DC], and Drew University). His books with Wipf and Stock include The Lyrical Theology of Charles Wesley, Radical Grace: Justice for the Poor and Marginalized, Partakers of the Life Divine, and over a dozen books of poetry.


In some ways the chronological arrangement according to the dates of those quoted reminds me of Erasmus’s Adagia and other Renaissance collections of wise sayings, except that instead of prose mini-essays S T has given his readers poetry. With careful consideration of the meters and rhyme schemes most appropriate for each saying, he turns ancient epigrams into meditations.

Fr. John H. Erickson, Peter N. Gramowich Professor of Church History Emeritus and former Dean, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, NY

These poetic paraphrases illuminate and sometimes expand upon ancient wisdom with insight, perspicacity, and often with great charm.

Peter Bouteneff, Founding Director, Institute of Sacred Arts, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

S T Kimbrough, Jr., has the unusual gift of taking words of ancient and medieval wisdom and rendering them into very contemporary verse. He even renders a few moderns like Ludwig Wittgenstein and St Teresa of Calcutta, and whoever thought they’d end up next to each other? This is deeply insightful wisdom. Keep it close at hand.

Ted A. Campbell, Albert C. Outler Professor of Wesley Studies and Church History, Perkins School of Theology, SMU