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The Churches The Apostles Left Behind Paperback – April 1, 1984

4.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Press; Trade Paperback edition (April 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809126117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809126118
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Timothy Kearney VINE VOICE on November 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
THE CHURCHES THE APOSTLES LEFT BEHIND is no longer a new volume, and there has been a great deal of research in the early Church since the publication of this book. None the less, I often find myself going back to this gem of a resource whenever I am trying to find something interesting to present about the various Churches founded by the Apostles. The communities that Brown discusses are those of Paul, both from his letters and the Lucan communities often associated with Paul, Peter, John, and Matthew. Brown looks at these major communities from the traditional point of view, but includes current scholarship at the time of the book's publication as well. While Brown's Catholic perspective is evident in much of his writing, he was asked as a Catholic to address an ecumenical audience, so the book demonstrates what unites Christianity, namely a common early history, rather than what divides us today.
During his lifetime, Raymond Brown was a Sulpician priest involved in the training of people for ministry. This book reflects his pastoral concern. Actually, many of the chapters were presented as lectures for people involved in ministry.
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Format: Paperback
In the manner of a great scholar, Raymond E. Brown normally multiplies arguments built upward from his unusual command of a great array of facts. A hint of that tendency emerges in The Churches the Apostles Left Behind. Fr. Brown, a Roman Catholic priest, asks how the churches of the late first century survived the trauma of the deaths of the originary apostles. Using paradigms that emerge from reading the Pauline pastoral epistles, Colossians/Ephesians, Luke/Acts, First Peter, the Gospel of John, the Johannine epistles, and the Gospel of Matthew, Brown presents models of church laitant in the communities of the New Testament documents. Though his book traces an emergent ecclesiology in the Christian canon, it intends to provide an ecumenical church of the present age lessons in just how we might be church in the present age. Rather than a teacher of dusty history, Fr. Brown here serves as a pastor for the church of flesh and blood. The Churches the Apostles Left Behind presents a different kind of read for Fr. Brown's students.
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Format: Paperback
The genesis of Christianity from the death of the apostles to the sub-apostolic communities is an interesting topic. The late Raymond Brown wrote three books specifically devoted to this issue: THE CHURCHES THE APOSTLES LEFT BEHIND, ANTIOCH AND ROME (with John P. Meier) and THE COMMUNITY OF THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. Taken as a whole, these three discuss the trajectory of early Christian history from the time of the apostles to the end of the 1st century (or slightly after). It should be noted that Brown believes that most of the works of the New Testament were written during the final third of the century.

The CHURCHES THE APOSTLES LEFT BEHIND is probably the best place to start. The contents of the book were given as lectures in 1980 and are easier to read. He deals with seven movements: the Pastoral Epistles, Colossians/Ephesians, Luke/Acts, I Peter, Fourth Gospel, the Epistles of John, and Matthew.

Regardless of one's views of the authorship and dates of the books of the New Testament, there is no doubt that the writers were dealing with different situations and, at least in some respects, had different theologies. While one may try to harmonize the various strands, certain tensions remain. For example, the Johannine literature mentions the church only a few times, and only then in reference to the local church. Colossians/Ephesians make reference to the universal church. The Pastorals concern the teaching church. And, as Brown notes, one wonders if Paul could have met the requirements for a presbyter-bishop as set forth in the Pastorals given his fiery temper.

These books share the strengths and weaknesses of Brown's approach. They are well written and informative, but too dismissive of those he disagrees with.
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Raymond Brown's investigation into the Apostolic communities of the early Church provides a solid biblical foundation for studies of the Church. It offers a mature view of the scripture which attests to these communities. While remaining orthodox, Brown does not appeal to less-informed views of the Bible. Instead, he views the testimony of the New Testament writers within their realistic historical contexts. It is from his view of these contexts that his work derives most of its strength.

Brown looks at each book (or set of books) that he investigates as an example which addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the community which caused the writing to come into effect. He realizes that the work of the New Testament is one which is an organic whole, no one work being a microcosm of the message of the New Covenant. By starting from this perspective, Brown is able to explain the strengths and weaknesses of each community and how each is addressed in the works associated with them. This gives a mature view of how scripture informs us, as a whole, not as isolated parts.

In the study of ecclesiology, it can become very tempting to approach the views of the Church from a solely historical perspective, without taking reflection to scripture. Brown's book gives a good starting background to investigating ecclesiology as a whole, scriptural and traditional.
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