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Early Christian Fathers (Library of Christian Classics) Paperback – December 1, 1995

4.2 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cyril C. Richardson was for many years Washburn Professor of Church History at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Shepherd is Professor of Church History in the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Hardy is Professor of Church History in the Berkeley Divinity School, New Haven.

Fairweather is Professor of Divinity in Trinity College, Toronto.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (December 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684829517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684829517
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
An attempt to present the early church fathers in a more user-friendly book, Early Christian Fathers is readable and useful as both a tool and a reference. This book covers the writings of Clement of Rome, Igantius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Diognetius, Ireneaus and the Didache in a author-by-author context introducing the background, authorship, and texts of each writing. The book is introduced with a good but brief overview of 2nd century Christianity and the development of its thought up until that point.
The translations are very readable and the footnotes, while sometimes distracting, help to keep the context in mind. For me, however, the introductions to each writing is almost worth as much as the actual translated letters as it provides the whole theme of the letter in concise and simple treatment. So whether it is the background or the actual letters you desire to read this book has it.
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This is the best single-volume introduction to the "Early Church Fathers" (early Patristic Writers) of the 1st and 2nd centuries. I have a library of the Ancient Christian Writers series of many more Patristic authors, and have studied unabridged versions of their works, but I found myself looking for something accessible for a friend recently. After researching the matter, I bought two copies of this work - one for my friend and one for me.

Richardson and company take the earliest and best non-canonical Christian literature and present it, edited, in a handy volume that contains not only preforatory material for each letter, but also helpful footnotes and study aids.

Many people don't know that before the close of the age of the Apostles that Clement of Rome was penning a letter to the Corinthians (AD 95 or so), the same group that had given Paul so many headaches 40 years earlier. This letter starts of this work. Next, we move on to the kind, gentle Bishop Ignatius of Antioch. About AD 110, as he was being transported to Rome for his execution as a Christian, he wrote letters to Churches along the way exhorting them to continue in faithfulness. About the middle of the second century, Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna - a disciple of John the Apostle - wrote a letter to the Phillipians. That letter is in here. Next, his martyrdom is recounted in another early Christian document.

And on it goes. The Didache (or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) probably contains material from both the first and second centuries AD. It's a sort of manual on what Christian worship, procedure and organization should be. The so-called Second Letter of Clement follows that in which second century Christian living is described.
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Cyril C. Richardson has edited a beautiful book with writings of the "early christian fathers." Unlike many Introductions in other books, Cyril's is to the point and informative. It is a must read to get a better understyanding on the letters from these early Christians.
He has laid out the book in a nice, easy format that consists of each chapter with an:
Introduction that gives the historical and theological backdrop of the letter.
A list of books used as resources.
The letter by the early author.
The different chapters cover such items as the "Letters in Crises", "The Way of Martyrdom", "In Defense of the Faith" and so on. Letters are written by some of Christians greatests men such as Ignatius, Polycarp, and Clement.
This is a great book for all Christians - a must read!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was hoping when I got this book, it would be better than the other Apostolic Fathers books that I already have or are out there. This was a sad disappointment. This book is very long, but you have to scroll down to get to parts, as a table of contents is non-existence. Something I would forgive in fiction but not literature as rich in meaning as the canonical Bible itself. I've still not found one decent translation of Ignatius or Clement or Polycarp out there that doesn't fall into the unreadable KJV English. I cannot recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
This book has very good introductions before each selection of a Church Father. For those not knowing much about the author or his writings these intros were informative and aided in understanding the text. There is also some commentary about the text which again is very helpful. This book attempts to capture a representative sampling of the Early Christian literature and it does so well. A must read for any student of Early Christian history.
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Format: Paperback
This collection from the early fathers is outstanding. I don't know how to describe it except to say that the translator shows himself to be a master of the languages: sheer genius. When going back to these seminal masterpieces of the early Church, this edition is my preferred choice. Thank God it's back in print! While most of the texts are complete, the choice of selections from longer works (i.e., Irenaeus and Justin) are generous and judicious. It includes the critical texts of Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Justin the Martyr, Athenagoras, as well as the Didache and a few other things. Paragraph numbering is useful to the academic reader. Each text is supplied with a critical introduction and valuable textual notes. These intro's are also, for the most part, real gems. Probably the only disappointment is the lack of Shepherd of Hermas. My advice: get this masterpiece on your bookshelf.
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