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The Ante-Nicene Fathers (10 Volume Set) Revised Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1565630826
ISBN-10: 1565630823
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 6448 pages
  • Publisher: Hendrickson Publishers; Revised edition (June 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565630823
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565630826
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 10 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 23 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

This is the (basically) complete set of the Early church writings up until 325 A.D. These 10 volumes contain quite a lot of material. Volume 10 is actually an index of all of the earlier books. The complete works of Justin, Clement, Athenagoras, Ignatius, etc are found within. I agree with the other poster that there are some problems. The issue of new texts discovered is a big one. Since the time this series was published many new texts have been found, such as the Gospel of Thomas and 2 works by Origen. So that is an issue. Also the way they put Clement of Alexandria's third book in Latin is silly today. Luckily I managed to find another translation that had it. The third problem is the English is pretty stagnant at times. Its very stiff and complex at times, but I actually have come to like it (don't ask me why!). But I am still giving this 5 stars because the set is fairly affordable, and there is a lot of great stuff in here for the price. Virtually every pre-Nicene writing, from the Didache to Alexander of Alexandria's letters to Arius, is in here. I would never be without this set.
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This is an excellent (and, in my opinion, the best) collection of early Christian writings, for many reasons. First of all, it's a very reliable, widely accepted, critically praised, and relatively literal translation (compared to others that I've seen). Secondly, the writings contained in it are complete, unlike many other publications that only contain fragments or portions of these early writings. And finally, it's currently the only large collection that's reasonably affordable. For all of these reasons, I give it full marks.

It is not, however, perfect. There are several more recently discovered writings that are not found in these volumes. For Irenaeus' "Proof of the Apostolic Preaching," you'll have to try and get your hands on volume 16 of the "Ancient Christian Writers" series. While the "Popular Patristics" series provides us with Melito of Sardis' "On Pascha" and Hippolytus' "On the Apostolic Tradition." And then there are the many other writings of Origen that aren't in the "Ante-Nicene Fathers" (hereafter referred to simply as "the ANF"): His "Homilies on Genesis" and "Homilies on Exodus" can be found in volume 71 of the "Fathers of the Church" series; "Homilies on Leviticus 1-16" in volume 83; "Homilies on Joshua" in volume 105; "Homilies on Jeremiah" and "Homily on 1 Kings 28" in volume 97; "Homilies on Luke" in volume 94; and his lengthy "Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans" in volumes 103 & 104. Also, volume 19 of the "Ancient Christian Writers" series has Origen's "On Prayer" and "Exhortation to Martyrdom," while volume 26 has both his "Commentary on The Song of Solomon" and "Homilies on The Song of Solomon," and finally volume 54 has his "Treatise on the Passover" and "Dialogue with Heraclides." (Yes, Origen was the single most prolific early Christian writer.
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This 10-volume set is a treasure trove of the writings of the early church translated into English, from the Apostolic Fathers to the Nicene Council. The problem with it is that it is only a reprint of a collection originally published in 1885. Because of this it carries over many of the pruderies Alexandria's Miscellanies (in volume 2 of this set) is printed only in enters upon the refutation of the false-Gnostics and their licentious tenets. Professing a stricter rule to begin with, and despising the ordinances of the Creator, their result was the grossest immorality in practice. The melancholy consequences of an enforced celibacy are, here, all forseen and foreshown; and this Book, though necessarily offensive to our Christian tastes, is most useful as a commentary upon the history of monasticism, and the celibacy of priests, in the Western churches. The resolution of the Edinburgh editors to give this Book to scholars _only_, in the Latin, is probably wise." In other words, because it may corrupt our Christian morals, we won't print it in the venacular, but instead keep it only in the hands of professors. This editorial decision was disgustingly illiberal; a scholar should make all information accessible. Besides, Clement of Alexandria isn't considered a heretic; he's one of the official Church Fathers. Now a decision like that may have been acceptable in 1885, but it can scarcely be defended today. I do not see what could have kept this set's reprinters from providing a translation of Book III, if only as an appendix. I have not noticed any other example of suppression in these volumes, although the fact that there is even one instance is disturbing. This only serves to convince me that a new, fresh edition of these writers is needed.Read more ›
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While I agree that this set has various faults, as the other reviewers have rightly pointed out, we must also accept it for what it is. It is an 1885 edition of this material, and nothing else like this has been attempted in the 120 years since, nor is it likley to be.

And, yes, while it may be nice to have newer versions and translations which take newer findings into account, it must also be recognised that if a newer edition was produced, we would not be able to purchase it for the price of this older - and out of copyright - set. The cost to produce a newer edition would be prohibitive for the average person, and these great documents of church history would be confined to libraries and the offices of university professors - far from the reach of us "ordinary" people. It is in fact the cost which prevents a newer edition being undertaken.

So, let us not complain too loudly, but enjoy what we have, and make the best use of it that we can - all the while recognising that while this set is not "perfect", it is the best we will ever have.
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