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I have read many books on early Christian beliefs and decided it was time to look at the source material for these books and come up with my own summaries of these beliefs. This is volume 1 of 10 in this series and it covers the writings of what are termed the `Apostolic Fathers' since these are mostly men that knew the original apostles. The other 9 volumes all cover writers who lived and wrote before the Nicene Council in the late 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries. They are roughly listed in chronological order. This Kindle edition includes a good table of contents with links to each author, then to each book, and then to each chapter. It also includes links to footnotes (they are at the end of each chapter) that I found to be useful. It is well formatted, though as another reviewer mentioned, it would be nice to have the book and author you are reading listed on the top or bottom of the Kindle so you can remember who and what you are reading.

The writers who knew the apostles include Clement of Rome (late 1st century and a friend of Peter the apostle), Mathetes (2nd century - little known about him), Polycarp (2nd century and knew John the apostle), Ignatius (early 2nd century and was a student of John the apostle), Barnabas (attributed to the apostle of the same name, but scholars think the author is a 2nd century Christian), Papias (early 2nd century and is said to have known John the apostle).Those that did not know the apostles were Justin Martyr (mid 2nd century) and Irenaeus (late 2nd century), who were a generation later than the other men.

Since the works are in chronological order, it makes is easy to see the evolution of beliefs. The earliest writers focused mainly on the importance of living the gospel and following church leaders. You could also see their pre-Trinitarian beliefs of the Father and the Son. The Father is the only unbegotten God and the Son is the only begotten God and was begotten before the beginning. He is subordinate to the Father. They are clearly separate beings. They also taught the doctrine of deification and that there were three heavens. Justin Martyr taught that the Jews of his time believed that the Father was anthropomorphic.

These men believed that they were still inspired by the Holy Spirit and testified that miracles were still occurring. Ignatius and Justin Martyr taught that creation was done by God organizing existing matter and that matter is eternal. Irenaeus later became the first Christian to teach the concept that the creation was done ex nihilo in response to the heretical teachings of the Gnostics.

Justin Martyr also touches on the doctrine of a pre-mortal existence and uses this concept to prove that God did not make men wicked, but they were that way before they were born.

They also taught that man had free will and that salvation was synergistic and good works were important.

These authors also quoted scripture and it was interesting to see some variations from modern translations and they also quoted some scriptures that we no longer have and others that we have but are not included in the current canon.

Overall, I found this source material fascinating. The translation was easy to understand and the source notes were useful. The compiler noted where translations were disputed and gave the alternates. He also gave a good summary of each author and book. I feel reading this volume has greatly enhanced my understanding of early Christian beliefs. I will continue to read the subsequent volumes. I highly recommend this first volume to anyone interested in the writings of those that knew the apostles.
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on November 20, 2010
The Kindle edition of this series is nice and easy to navigate. There are none of the typical OCR typos that one associates with cheap electronic editions. I have been freeloading off the CCEL website for years. They deserve the few euro I'll pay for one or two volumes in this series.
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on May 25, 2011
It's great to have these volumes available on the Kindle in such a well-presented format. I have just a few critiques: (1) It is difficult to tell which of the works you are currently reading because all you have to go by from the current screen on your kindle is the location number. You have to go back to the table of contents and bounce around to figure it out. Actual page numbers and headings tied to the Author, Work, and Chapter would be great. It would be even better if those headings were hyperlinks back to the table of contents.

Also, the footnotes are highlighted in a way that, on the iPod or iPad Kindle app, looks identical to the reader's own highlights.
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VINE VOICEon February 20, 2015
This series has always been one that Pastors and Theologians rely on for background information and a look at the early life of the Christian Church. Philip Schaff has done a marvelous job of putting together the books with some extra notes and references.

I purchased these for my Kindle because the price was so good and I wanted to be able to take them with me when I travel so that I can continue to read. I am a big fan of the Kindle or any e-book, BUT, with these ancient writings it just seems that holding a book in my hands is more appropriate. But that is my preference and not really a review item.

These ancient writings are, if I may be so bold, a necessity for anyone wanting a serious study of the early church and early thoughts on theology. These men were scholars and wanted their knowledge to help others learn, grow and mature.

These are not a quick, easy read for anyone. But they are informative and will capture your attention as you get into them.

Thank you Philip Schaff for a good life project of putting these books together for us.
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on February 27, 2013
Many are unaware that when the history of the Church recorded in the Bible ends. the story picks up with the early fathers of the Church. One can read the writings of the men who worked with the Apostles and who served the churches they founded across the empire. Of course the Fathers were not kept from error, as the Apostles were in their writting, but those interested in the growth of the Church and the witness to Jesus' death and resurrection can almost be there in the writings of the Fathers. And all this is available electronically on your Kindle. What a treat!
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on June 3, 2014
I have just begun to delve into the words of the Church Fathers before the council of Nicea, and I think their writings are all very good so far. I believe any serious Bible College, or Religious studies student would do well to read these, also interested Pastors and lay people could learn quite a lot from these.

Thank you Amazon for making these volumes so affordable to the reader.
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on April 19, 2016
An incredible resource for all Christians. This is one volume in a series about the Church Fathers. Phillip Schaff is a protestant but does seem to be respect Orthodox and Catholic Traditions by at least referring to the appropriate persons as Saints. Schaff begins by giving his commentary on the chapters. This series provides Christians with an understanding of what the Early Church Fathers believed and practiced in all aspects of the Faith. Most of us assume the NT was written and then not much else until the Reformation, but that is far from the truth and this series shares that previously unknown knowledge.
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on August 3, 2014
Great resource with linked footnotes. For the price I can put up with a few of the formatting issues this free version has. If you interested in early church history this is fascinating stuff. You should also consider Eusebius' History of the Church also available on Kindle.
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on July 6, 2015
For the content alone, this "book" would receive four stars. It's a fascinating look at early Christian thought on a number of topics, even if some works/sections do tend to drag on in areas that are of little relevance (e.g., the intricacies of various gnostic systems of thought). And even in those sections, there is much to be learned in the authors approaches to the the challenges and how they answered rooted in the Word of God. The reason this is getting 3 stars is only because of my own (perhaps mistaken) attempt to read it straight through like a book. It is not a book but a collection of works, many of which are books in themselves. When I set out to read the whole thing straight through, since it was a PDF, I didn't at first realize the sheer length: 1600 pages! Unless you are an extraordinarily fast reader or have a LOT of patience, I would suggest reading the works contained in this volume and others separately and looking at the volume more as a library, lest discouragement settle in. That said, I am definitely glad I took this on and will continue to read the church fathers (because the church was not just born in the mid-20th century). However, I will be doing so in more manageable chunks, though still from this series/library by Schaff.
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on November 7, 2012
This book is great for serious study. It will take time to read it all but I am already looking forward to the next volume. I did not know this book was out there and really am glad that Amazon suggested it for me. If you are interested in early church history, read this book.
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