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The Fathers of the Church, Expanded Edition Paperback – November 1, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An ideal introduction to the early history of the Church" -- Homiletic and Pastoral Review

"Reading this book, one grows more Catholic by the page. It will surely be a classic." -- Scott Hahn, Ph.D.,Pope Benedict XVI Chair in Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation, St. Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, Pa.

"Simply a great read... a clear, compelling, accessible primer that's a gem of readability for a popular audience. I highly recommend it." -- Archbishop Charles Chaput

About the Author

Vice-president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, Mike Aquilina has authored or edited more than a dozen books on Catholic history, doctrine, and devotion, including the best-selling What Catholics Believe. He is currently co-host of EWTN's "Swear to God" and a regular panelist on "The Weekly Roman Observer" broadcast by the Catholic Family Network.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor (IN); Expanded edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159276245X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592762453
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew E. Bunson on October 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
Mike Aquilina's The Father of the Church was originally published in 1999 and became an instant classic and an essential text for the average reader seeking the critical writings, contributions, and lives of the Church's earliest theologians and defenders. With the release of an expanded edition of The Fathers of the Church, Aquilina, my friend and colleague, re-confirms the place of his work as a must-read, not just for Latin-rite Catholics but for all Christians eager to learn more about the early history of Christianity and the first great minds who articulated the truths of the Faith.

Aquilina offers an eminently accessible approach to the often intimidating and complex theological arguments and controversies so daunting for the average reader. The key to his success is expressed well by the author himself in his Introduction in which he describes the first Christian centuries as more than a "succession of creeds, councils, persecutions, and heresies." Rather, he correctly sees it more fully as the history of a family, and the book details "how the Fathers of that family strove to keep their household together, to preserve the family's patrimony, to teach and discipline their children, and to protect the family from danger."

Aquilina's coverage of each Father includes colorful and entertaining accounts of their lives, along with easy to follow summaries of their teachings, and extensive excerpts of their writings to provide a glimpse into their thoughts, priorities, and literary styles. For a relatively short book of 280 plus pages, he includes a stunning amount of material but never overwhelms the reader.

Especially significant are the inclusion of all of the Church Fathers, both East and West, and the chapter on "The World of the Fathers.
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Mike Aquilina writes an easy to read and engaging account of the early Church Fathers, both the Latin and the Greek. He illustrates that there was no gap in the teachings handed down by Jesus to His apostles and then to their followers, to this present day. He shows how the Church has been a family from the time Jesus established it, with the head of the family being recognized as the bishop of Rome, as successor to the prince of the apostles, Peter. In reading this book, we learn how the Church Fathers identified what it means to be a Christian, how a Christian should worship and how a Christian should live. We learn how these very human men were guided by the Holy Spirit to define what the Gospel of Jesus Christ truly says. He tells us who the Fathers are, then lets us read their words. This is a book that any student of Christianity should read.
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When I was a theology student in the late 70s and early 80s, the "Fathers of the Church" were Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx, and Hans Küng. In contrast, we had a lot of students from a local Orthodox seminary, who seemed to be reared on a diet of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, and St. Gregory of Nyssa.
Happily, however, the Fathers are back! Writing in 2006 in "First Things," R.R. Reno observed that "the patriarchs of orthodoxy are reascendant." The Fathers' return to the classroom is truly welcome, but--after all--John Chrysostom didn't get called "Golden-Mouthed" because of his lectures but because of his sermons! Happily, there is also growing popular interest in the Fathers. Mike Aquilina's book will fan that flame.
Why study the Fathers? The Fathers were guardians of the faith. St. Vincent of Lerins provides this reason: "'In the Catholic Church, all care must be taken to hold to the faith that has been believed everywhere, always, and by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense `Catholic'. . . . This rule we observe if we follow universality, antiquity, and consent. We follow universality if we confess . . . the faith that the whole Church throughout the world confesses. We follow antiquity if we in no way deviate from the interpretations that our holy ancestors and fathers have proclaimed as inviolable. We follow in consent . . . if in antiquity we adhere to the definitions and decisions of all (or at least almost all) the priests and doctors. . . . . [W]hatever [has] been held, written, taught--not just by one or two of these, but by all, equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently--that is what he must himself believe without any doubt or hesitation" (pp. 220-21).
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For many people, there is a gap between the time of Jesus and the time of Constantine. The gap between 30A.D and 313A.D. is rich with information about the roots of Christianity. Reading the Church Fathers helps one to understand the structure of the church as well as the deep love and devotion that the early Christians shared.
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What were the first generations of Christians like immediately after Jesus left them?
What were there worship services like?
Who were the major leaders and thinkers of the early Church?
What have Christians believed throughout the past centuries and how have our current beliefs developed?

These questions--along with many more--are tackled within the book I just finished, "The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers" by Mike Aquilina.

After converting from Protestantism to Catholicism, my ignorance of the first 1,500 years of Christianity became quickly evident. I was pretty sure that 'historical' Christianity began with the writings of Luther, Calvin, and Wesley. While I don't think they were actively hidden from me, the early Fathers of the Church were passively ignored.

However, once I was introduced to the rich writings of those who lived even before the Reformation, I was quickly overwhelmed. When you consider how relatively young most Protestant denominations are, you quickly realize that for every great Protestant thinker there was, there have been dozens of Catholic equivalents and superiors throughout history.

When I went from complete ignorance of these writers to a mass introduction of them all at once, it was like going from eating a small piece of chocolate to entering Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. It's easy to get overwhelmed with the hundreds of voices coming from the saints and Fathers of the Church throughout time, which brings me back to Aquilina's book.

This book introduces each of the Early Church Fathers through two methods. First, there is a page or two summarizing the life, major events, and writings of each Church Father.
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