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Irenaeus of Lyons Hardcover – November 26, 2001

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0521800068 ISBN-10: 0521800064 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"An intensively argued study of Irenaeus...It will prove rewarding to any student concerned with questions about how and why Christian theology arose." The Journal of Religion, Robert M. Grant

"Osborn brings to his treatment of this seminal figure [Irenaeus] the depth of his knowledge acquired through many years studying the second century, to produce a thoughtful, comprehensive study that has much to offer both students of early Christianity and contemporary Christians...This volume is sure to become a standard work on Irenaeus. It is clearly and engagingly presented, comprehensive and insightful, the kind of work which can only be written after many years of serious study of the field." St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly

Book Description

Eric Osborn's book presents a major study of Irenaeus (125 200), bishop of Lyons, who attacked Gnostic theosophy with positive ideas as well as negative critiques. Irenaeus's combination of argument and imagery, logic and aesthetic, was directed to a new document, the Christian bible. Dominated by a Socra tic love of truth and a classical love of beauty, he was a founder of Western humanism. Irenaeus is today valued for his splendid aphorisms, his optimism, love of the created world, evolutionary view of history, theology of beauty and humour.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (November 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521800064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521800068
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,189,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By T. Polk on July 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this book, Eric Osborn provides a creative and insightful analysis of the intellectual life of a second century genius. Osborn does an excellent job of explaining Irenaeus's ideas in readable style. He illustrates the combination of poetic and logical thinking that led to Irenaeus's theological and philosophical conclusions, and he persuasively presents the second century writer as an artistic genius who interwove "imagery and logic, poetry and argument" in distinguishing Christianity from such second century heresies as Valentinian Gnosticism. He also illustrated how visual Irenaeus was in his view of the Bible and the world. Osborn explained, for example, that to Irenaeus, "The diversity of the world is a splendid harmony from the composer of a wonderful universe." (page 256). Irenaeus was fascinated with "the rich natural beauty in which Adam was placed." (page 256).

The book's primary weakness, I found, was that it reveals both an active and a contemplative side of Irenaeus, and beautifully addresses the contemplative side, while it left me wanting to know more of how Osborn would analyze Irenaeus's active side. Osborn provides an intricate and insightful analysis of Irenaeus's theology and philosophy. However, Irenaeus was not only an intellectual. He was also a pastor and evangelist living at the outer geographic reaches of Christianity in an era of martyrdom. I would like to have had more chapters analyzing the more active side of Irenaeus's work.

Among these, Osborn convincingly argues that Irenaeus was an extremely visual man with the soul of an artist, which cannot help but raise the question of what Irenaeus had to say about women.
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