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The Early Christians: In Their Own Words Hardcover – March 8, 1998

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 378 pages
  • Publisher: Plough Publishing House; Revised edition (March 8, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874860954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874860955
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 92.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Not merely a volume of collected writings of Christians living in early church communities, this anthology is a reflection of a faith and a way of life aflame with uninhibited zeal and unwavering devotion. Arnold, the founder of the Bruderhof Community, whose members strive to imitate what they understand to be the purity and devotion of the early Christian church, compiled these writings some 75 years ago as a kind of guidebook for his community. In the first chapter, Arnold gives a synopsis of early Christian life. Each chapter contains material ranging from apologetic writing and confessions of faith to aphorisms, parables and poetry. Represented here are writers like the third-century theologian Tertullian, the first-century epistle writer Clement of Alexandria and, of course, Paul of Tarsus, one of the earliest interpreters of Jesus' life and ministry. Historical and contextual notes offer background for each writing. A clear and vibrant faith lives in these writings.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.


A clear and vibrant faith lives in these writings. Now, almost two thousand years later, they remind us of the stark simplicity and revolutionary fervor that is at the heart of our faith. -- Spiritual Book News<br /><br />Arnold's selection of texts suggests the richness and diversity of early Christian faith, and stands as a yardstick with which to measure the poverty of our own spiritual life. Arnold finds his norm for the Christian life in the transitional century ending in A.D. 180. A Christianity as yet unspoiled by ecclesiastical or philosophical structures, marked by longing for the end, pledged to love and sharing of worldly good, unencumbered as yet by high-placed or highly educated members, free of prohibital crafts, trades or professions-this is the golden age from which Arnold takes inspiration. -- Ford Lewis Battles, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary<br /><br />As an anthology of early Christian writings, this book will become invaluable for those who use it as a resource for preaching, worship, teaching, and their own devotional life. Those geared primarily toward social action should read it to see how prayer and the movement of the Holy Spirit were the motivating forces driving the early church in its social work. Those geared toward evangelism need to read it to see how for the first Christians, telling the good news was never separate from being the good news. -- Larry D. Fourman, Ministers Book Club<br /><br />If you hold, like Arnold does, that Christianity is no longer Christianity if it departs too radically from its beginnings, then you must read this book. --Roland H. Bainton, Yale University

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Eberhard Arnold's book is one of the most profound that I have read on early church history. In his attempt to recreate a communal society which was as close to that of the early church as possible (the Bruderhof in Germany and, later, the Hutterites in England), Arnold researched all the early sources which he could find, whether written by Jews, Christians, Romans, or others from the ancient world. His massive volume contains everything he found in his attempt to get to the spirit of that early community. He quotes from Tertullian, Justin, Cicero, Ignatius, Jerome, Theophilus of Antioch, Polycarp, and others. He does not draw conclusions but lets those to his readers to ascertain from the evidence of early believers.
The book is heavy laden with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of translated selections from the original Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. It is a rare edition which enlightens at every turn and, in some ways, reminds one of all the evidence on both sides of the fence which emerge in court proceedings. One reads the martyrdoms of many an early Christian and wonders whence their courage emerged. Much information abounds on early catecomb worship practices in Rome. The book is a marvel, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Jeanne Smith McPherson, KS.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By on October 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Eberhard Arnold begins with a brief history of the gradual institutionalizing of simple discipleship into ecclesiastical Christianity. His understood intent, througout the book, is to bring believers back to the basic lifestyle of Christ that was so resplendent in the early disciples. Chapters on martyrs, description of early church life and worship, and the beliefs of the early Christians concerning prophecy, persecution, and the return of Jesus are especially beneficial. A MUST read for anyone who wants to "walk as Jesus did" (1 Jn. 2:6) and follow the examples of the early believers. I heartily recommend this stirring and passionate treatment of "authentic discipleship" by disciple Arnold.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Johannes Platonicus on May 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Eberhard Arnold's work on "The Early Christians," is an excellent source for understanding the beliefs and doctrines of the early christians in context of their own testimony and time. Arnold begins with a comprehensive introduction to shed light upon the social aspects of church society contrasted with its remarkable spread throughout the Pagan world. In other words, Arnold does a good job describing the initial steps of primative Christianity that would eventually leed to the well-structured and ecclesiastical institution that has prevailed to this very day. The testimonies recorded of these champions of faith, are composed with skill, and fit the criteria for which they were purposed in this work and in their time. Unfortunately, early christians didn't write that much, so we are indebted to work with what has existed from either oral tradition or scholarly manuscripts. There are no 'real' drawbacks to this work except the fact that the actual testimonies are few and emanate only from the scholarly retinue of the sencond century. Overall, this book gets four stars; the benefits range from quick reference to quotes(etc.), and to a broad spectrum of the personality and character of the early church itself.
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