For nine hundred years one of the most beloved and widely read Scriptural commentaries among the Orthodox people of Byzantium, Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia, and Greece has been Blessed Theophylact’s Explanation of the New Testament (Blagovestnik)
. The comprehensiveness, the patristic authority, and, at the same time, the simplicity of this great work makes it of value to every Christian seeking to understand the meaning of the Gospel preaching.
Here is what Bishop Ignatius (Ignaty) Brianchaninov,
a renowned spiritual writer and monastic guide of nineteenth century Russia, has to say about this work:
“While reading the evangelists, the novice [or beginner] should also read The Explanation of the Gospels
by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria. The reading of The Explanation
is indispensable. It is an aid to the right understanding of the Gospel and consequently to the most exact practice of it. Moreover, the rules of the Church require that Scripture should be understood as the holy Fathers explain it, and not at all arbitrarily. By being guided in our understanding of the Gospel by the explanation of the holy Fathers, we keep the tradition of the holy Church.” (From The Arena
Blessed Theophylact’s Explanation has not been previously translated into any western European language, but his work was known in the west early on. Thomas Aquinas approved of it 150 years after Bl. Theophylact's repose and it was known to western scholars of Byzantium since the time of Erasmus. In the 20th century more attention has been given by historians to Bl. Theophylact's Letters, which provide an insight to life in the Byzantine empire at the time of the First Crusade (1096-1099).