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The Apostolic Fathers: An Essential Guide (Abingdon Essential Guides) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Abingdon Essential Guides
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press; annotated edition edition (December 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068734204X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0687342044
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,847,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Here is a long awaited volume that treats in a concise and readable format a body of literature too often neglected, but absolutely essential to our understanding of Christian origins. Clayton Jefford brings unrivaled expertise to this task and serves as a sensitive and insightful guide to these texts, offering an introduction that will serve the needs of the beginning student and the seasoned expert alike. It is sure to be at the top of the reading list for anyone interested in this important topic." - Stephen J Patterson, Eden Theological Seminary

About the Author

Clayton N. Jefford is Professor of Scripture at Saint Meinrad School of Theology.

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As author Clayton Jefford states in the first chapter, the body of literature collectively known as the Apostolic Fathers was, like the New Testament, not recognised as such during the time of composition, but rather is a categorisation that has been made much later, with the benefit of hindsight. 'In large part our Apostolic Fathers represent the remnants of early Christian writings that ultimately did not make it into the New Testament canon.' These are writings that were seen as having merit for the early Christian community, and continued to hold authority of some sort in most subsequent Christian times and institutions, but has never had an official church sanction in the way that the canonical Bible has had.

However, understanding the formation of the canon is important in understanding the Apostolic Fathers as a collection, and Jefford introduces this complex subject with clarity. The closeness of these works to the canonical scriptures can be seen in the fact that, on various ancient lists, some of the works appear with the current canonical books, while some canonical texts are missing. Jefford gives a brief introduction to each work of the Apostolic Fathers (Epistle to Diognetus, First Clement, Second Clement, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, the seven Epistles of Ignatius, the Epistle of Polycarp, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, the Shepherd of Hermas, and fragments of Papias) - whereas each of the works dates back to the first or second century, the phrase and understanding of the collection is at least a medieval one, and Jefford states that the modern use of the term 'Apostolic Fathers' dates from Jean Cotelier in 1672.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David E. Blair on December 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The literary output of the apostolic fathers represents the earliest stratum of post-canonical Christian writings to be preserved. They were all composed in either the very, very late first century CE or the first three quarters of the second century CE. As such, they are an invaluable source of continuity and occasional divergence from the New Testament. It is indeed possible that some were written before the last of the canonical New Testament writings. And yet, they seem to be under appreciated by both Christians and scholars of Christian origins. With the exception of the Didache, most are now widely disregarded. Two other contemporary books along with this volume attempt to analyze and put these works into perspective. One is by Simon Tugwell and the other is by Paul Foster. Not one of these three books breaks one hundred sixty pages. The last major work on these writings was Robert Mcqueen Grant's magisterial translation and commentary in six volumes issued between 1964 and 1968 which runs to over two thousand pages and is of course currently practically unobtainable!

As an accompaniment to this book, I would suggest Michael Holmes recent English only translation of these documents which is lively, accessible, and accurate. This will allow you to read the fathers in conjunction with Jefford's commentary and analysis. And so, what does Jefford accomplish in this slim little book? He places each of the documents in place, time, and genre as well as possible. He explains how each illuminates the evolution of the liturgical rituals, faith confessions, ecclesiastical regulations and ethical norms in this critical period of early Church history. He assesses the reception and influence of each of these document in the Church.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. McDonald on February 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Apostolic Fathers is a collection of early Christian writings from the late first and early second centuries, traditionally considered to have been written by those connected with the apostles, and therefore reflecting authentic apostolic teaching. These writings include 1 Clement, 2 Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Didache, Barnabas, Papias, Hermas, Martyrdom of Polycarp, Diognetus, and Quadratus. Considering their historical context, the Apostolic Fathers bear directly on the study of the New Testament, the development of the early church, and the history of Christian theology. This book will explain the nature of the collected writings as they stand between the world of the New Testament and later Christian writers, focusing upon what the texts say about ancient Christian thinkers, early church developments, and the evolution of theological ideas prior to the great ecumenical councils. Here is a long awaited volume that treats in a concise and readable format a body of literature too often neglected, but absolutely essential to the understanding of Christian origins. The author brings unrivaled expertise to this task and serves as a sensitive and insightful guide to these texts, offering an introduction that will serve the needs of the beginning student and the seasoned expert alike. It is sure to be at the top of the reading list for anyone interested in this important topic.
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