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Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings, Lectionary Cycle A Paperback – May 11, 2007
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Read these devotions to prepare for Sunday services, to prepare to write your sermon, to learn from saints who have gone before. Mine them for sermon illustrations, encouragement for your own faith, and to sample the ACCS. (PJC, Liturgy, Hymnody, & Pulpit Quarterly Book Review, Vol. 2, issue 4)
"My own rediscovery of liturgy, and my more recent appetite for the church fathers, find perfect combination in this new IVP book. At the end of the book is a helpful biographical section. I have found this devotional useful, and I turn to it now and then for more variety in my liturgical diet. Plus, because its liturgical programme is not too demanding it is nonthreatening and adaptable." (Chris Tilling, Chrisendom, March 12, 2008)
"For those who may be intimidated at the thought of digging into the writings of the church fathers, Ancient Christian Devotional may be the perfect starting block. Not to mention it is a beautifully designed book!" (Natalie Klein, Young Ladies Christian Fellowship Blog, January 29, 2008)
"This volume is a gem . . . this might well prove to be the most compelling way to persuade Christians of the value of early church theology." (New Horizons, December 2007)
"A great resource for clergy of all denominations in preparing Sunday homilies or sermons. . . . Readers can use this to prepare for their Sunday worship or for daily prayer." (Br. Benet Exton, OSB, www.curledup.com)
About the Author
Thomas C. Oden (PhD, Yale University), is the general editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture and the Ancient Christian Doctrine series as well as the author of Classic Christianity, a revision of his three-volume systematic theology. He is the director of the Center for Early African Christianity at Eastern University in Pennsylvania and he formerly served as the Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology at The Theological School of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Oden is active in the Confessing Movement in America, particularly within the United Methodist Church and is president of The Institute for Classical Christian Studies. He suggests that Christians need to rely upon the wisdom of the historical Church, particularly the early Church, rather than on modern scholarship and theology and says his mission is "to begin to prepare the postmodern Christian community for its third millennium by returning again to the careful study and respectful following of the central tradition of classical Christianity."
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Top Customer Reviews
What I would also suggest is that readers who are interested in this volume would consider the fact that all of the writers in this collection wrote out of their experience of the common liturgical life of the Church, with all of the holy days, Eucharistic celebrations, baptism, fasting periods and feasting periods etc. This book is a great example of the fruit that is born out of such a life, which still exists in the Eastern Orthodox tradition in full force. For these writers, Christianity was never a "me and Jesus" experience, but one which understood itself as part of the Body of Christ, partaking of the holy mysteries and worshipping at one altar before the triune God who has revealed Himself to us in His incarnate, crucified and resurrected Christ.
Ut Unum Sint.
The devotional matches each reading from the Sunday lectionary with comments from the Church Fathers (and occasionally, Mothers). This is a rich source of Christian inspiration from ancient sources that until now have been unavailable to the average lay Christian. There are enough readings to make this a useful book of devotions for each day of the week.
You may have to learn something about the lectionary to use this book: the dates published in the devotional won't necessarily be the right dates when this year's edition (corresponding to Lectionary Year A) is used again three years from now. There's no problem with identifying Sundays like the "First Sunday in Lent," but at other times of the year (especially the later Sundays after Epiphany and the earlier Sundays after Pentecost) you'll need to match the readings with what your church is reading on the coming Sunday to figure out whether you're using the right week. So there's a bit of a learning curve. I wish this had been better explained in the introduction.
Some readers may not know that the lectionary that forms the basis of this devotional is the same used widely in Protestant and Anglican churches, and is very close to the Sunday mass lectionary used in the Roman Catholic Church.
Used with the Bible and any version of the "daily office" (as in the Book of Common Prayer or The New Century Psalter), this devotional can add value both to personal and public daily prayer.
Christian devotional books are a dime a dozen. The market is flooded with new releases every year, most of which are average at best and ultimately ephemeral. This one is different. Instead of focusing on the contemporary and that which is passing away, the "Ancient Christian Devotional" helps Christians from all branches of Christ's Church to connect to the saints and the Church of all ages.
The "Ancient Christian Devotional" provides a year of weekly readings for each week of the year. It is a rich devotional resource that provides a structure for the devotions of God's people, while drawing upon the riches of the saints of the past. The theme and lessons are drawn from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) used by the mainline churches (Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist) and Roman Catholic Church. This is a 3-year cycle of readings for each week of the year and is tied to the liturgical life of the church and the church year.
Each week is divided up into the following sections:
Overview of the Theme for the Week
Opening Prayer (taken from early church resources)
Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel Readings
Psalm of Response
Reflections from the Church Fathers
The "Ancient Christian Devotional" is, therefore, an invaluable devotional resource that will help Christians place their private devotions in their proper context of the life of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Hopefully, it will lead many Christians to explore the writings of the church fathers more and see their lives in the Church in more holistic terms.
I have one significant criticism of the book, and that the devotionals are based on a weekly and not daily cycle. Oden, the editor, gives very little direction in how to use the devotional on a daily basis, and having a daily devotional time is what most of us are struggling with. You'll have to be creative if you want to use this book on a daily, and not weekly, basis.
Having said this, the book deserves 5 stars because of the importance of helping to teach us all to read, pray, and meditate with the Church, and not apart from her.