Regrettably, in the history of the church, there have been times when the study of Scripture was discouraged by the Church. With the Protestant Reformation came a great push and emphasis on the importance Bible reading and study. Thanks to the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440, the Bible and other books became cheaper and much more accessible by the time Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany (i.e. 1517).
Greater distribution of the Bible and other books played a big part in bringing about the Protestant revolution that swept through much of 16th century Europe. And while Bible study was very important to the early Protestants, they were certainly not the first Christians to stress the importance of reading, studying and knowing the Word of God.
In 248 AD, about the same time Cyprian became Bishop of Carthage, he wrote a treatise for his “beloved son” Quirinus. Here is some of what Cyprian said about the importance of reading the Scriptures, “And these things may be of advantage to you meanwhile, as you read, for forming the first lineaments of your faith. More strength will be given you, and the intelligence of the heart will be effected more and more, as you examine more fully the Scriptures, old and new, and read through the complete volumes of the spiritual books.”
Bishop Cyprian knew how important it was for believers to be immersed in the Word of God. He understood that knowledge of God’s Word gives "strength" and "intelligence of the heart" to the believers who “examine more fully the Scriptures, old and new.”
While reading the letters and treatises of St. Cyprian one thing becomes very clear almost at once, it is clear that Cyprian had immersed himself in God’s word. His writings are full of quotes from the Scriptures.
Cyprian knew the Bible at a time when getting access to the Scriptures was difficult and passion of the Scriptures could cost you your life. Today, there are Bibles everywhere and we will not be arrested or executed for reading the Scriptures.
In our day, Bible study is encouraged in Protestant and Catholic churches alike. We all would do well to heed Cyprian’s advice to Quirinus and “examine more fully the Scriptures, old and new, and read through the complete volumes of the spiritual books.”