CS Lewis is known for advocating the reading of old books. And while he put that in print in a couple of places. The best known of these is his introduction to Athanasius’ On the Incarnation.
He advocates not only the reading of old books, which he advocates not because they are better, but because they have a different set up biases and blind spots. And when I read Athanasius I did run up against some of those blind spots, like this quote:
Even children hasten thus to die, and not men only, but women train themselves by bodily discipline to meet it. So weak has death become that even women, who used to be taken in by it, mock at it now as a dead thing robbed of all its strength. (my emphasis, On the Incarnation, Location 731 in Kindle)
But most of what is here is clear presentation of ancient understanding of the importance of Christ’s bodily incarnation, his life on earth and his physical death and physical resurrection. I would not support every positions, nor would I support every position of any modern author either. But there really is something important to reading directly.
I am going to have a long quote from Lewis’ introduction to On the Incarnation. One that is emphasizing a different point than old having different biases.
There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about “isms” and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that first-hand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than second-hand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire. This mistaken preference for the modern books and this shyness of the old ones is nowhere more rampant than in theology. Wherever you find a little study circle of Christian laity you can be almost certain that they are studying not St. Luke or St. Paul—or St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas or Hooker or Butler, but M. Berdyaev or M. Maritain or M. Niebuhr or Miss Sayers or even myself. (On the Incarnation Location 32 in Kindle)