on August 16, 2013
Whether you're curious about the people who laid the foundations of the Christian Faith, or you've heard about them all your life but hardly read them, or even if you've read them a lot but would like a handy, manageable, one-volume collection of their "greatest hits"--this collection is for you. It contains the best writing of the best writers about Christianity through the first nine centuries of its existence. The snippets are easily digestible, the language is accessible, and the selection is thoughtful. This book belongs on the shelf of every Christian and everyone who wants to know what Christianity is really all about.
on January 31, 2014
For those busy folk looking for solid yet digestible spiritual reading -- those who, like most people, have busy schedules -- I recommend this new book by Professor James R. Payton, Jr. Dr. Payton teaches history and patristics at Redeemer University in Hamilton, Ontario. He is also the author of LIGHT FROM THE CHRISTIAN EAST: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ORTHODOX TRADITION. His new book is ideal for daily reading in the Greek and Latin fathers of the ancient church. In a very helpful introduction, he reviews the history of these early fathers in general, and the importance of each in particular. The book itself consists of many carefully culled passages from their writings and provides a welcome pilgrimage through their extensive works. The book is available in paperback, and in eBook format (Kindle) for easy portability. This is a "keeper" you will want to keep handy and use daily, to delve into over many months and years for its solid nuggets of healthy and nourishing wisdom from the days of the undivided Church.
"One only qualified as a `Church Father' if he met four tests: antiquity, holiness of life, orthodox teaching, and ecclesiastical approval...`Church Father' was a stamp of approval; it assured that the author's works could be read with confidence and profit."--James Payton, Jr.
The writings of the Church Fathers are regularly praised but infrequently read, while the books about them are more frequently presenting their sayings within their hagiographies. The reason for that fascination may have been caused by the influential Bishop of ancient Christianity, when he wrote to the Churches in Europe "The Life of Anthony". Athanasius started the "Patristic treasury," that paid back in the conservation of faith and learning by the monastic vocation, lead by Anthony and Paul the recluse, who founded the devotion of the Desert Fathers of Egypt.
In part, because their ancient Christian subjects and great diverse volumes the sayings of the fathers are discouraging to novice readers, yet, they recount the hagiographic stories of the Christian faith, built upon apostolic wisdom. today, readers cannot recognize those pearls, amidst a tsunami of recent literature of Gnostic Coptic Library, or the Dead Sea Scrolls. James Payton has made the Fathers more accessible through his Patristic scholarship. His talent is thought-provoking, stimulating, with striking paradoxical statements.
It is interesting that Dr. Payton, who teaches history and is a Reformed Christian himself, reflects on the Readings from the Church Fathers from a Calvinist view point, rather than a hagiographic view as is the case mostly with Catholic and Orthodox treatment. He is supported by his vast experience in Eastern Churches and teaching in orthodox communities of eastern Europe. All Christian readers can be inspired, challenged, and even inspired by the Patristic Treasury, that presents early universal Christianity.