- Paperback: 672 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 28, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781453624609
- ISBN-13: 978-1453624609
- ASIN: 1453624600
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Saint Irenaeus of Lyons: Against Heresies Paperback – March 28, 2012
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This is just one of the books that prove people wrong. Many people spread the lie that Christians cannot know what early church doctrine was. There's a lie going around that the bible was formulated during councils a few hundred years after Christ. However, we have many writings from people in the first and second century that contradict this lie. Irenaeus is one of these people; he learned partly under Polycarp, who in turn learned under John (one of Jesus' disciples). We have Polycarp's writings also. We also we contemporaries of Polycarp who left us writings. Just Irenaeus alone quotes almost the whole new testament and probably paraphrases the rest of it. Between these writers, the whole new testament is either quoted, paraphrased, or referred to. The letters and books in the bible we have today were already considered scripture before the second century. Actually, they were being spread around like scripture before all the apostles died.
Book I contained Irenaeus's straight-forward retelling of the Gnostic heresies advanced by Marcion, Valentinus, Simon Magus and others. If it weren't for moments of cheek and wit, this inital section would be impossible to read. Some of these Gnostic sects hold beliefs, which are laugh out loud hilarious. In hindsight, it's chilling to read the similarities between the Gnostics and today's Eastern philosophy, New Age and Spiritualist movements.
Book II unveiled Irenaeus's use of logic and philosophy in debunking the Gnostic heresies of his day. The arguments don't flow that smoothly, and in several places, they're muddled at best, which I attributed in great measure to the extant Latin text. The footnotes provided a great deal of insight into the difficulties that the translators encountered with the Latin. Now, the latter part of this second section starts to gain some steam as Irenaeus advances the sacredness of scripture. I viewed it as an embryonic statement of the authority and sufficiency of scripture.
Books III-V read much quicker and clearer as Irenaeus used the Old and New Testament writings to expose the core Gnostic belief that the spirit aspect of man is sacred while the body is evil. These last three books are a vociferous defense of Christ's birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection. It's quite amazing and illuminating to see Irenaeus's depth of knowledge regarding the Old and New Testaments. He quoted from the Pentateuch, the prophets, the wisdom books, the Pauline letters and the gospels with such regularity that I found it hard to believe the claims that the Christian councils between 300-500 A.D. were the ones mainly responsible for 66 books as we have them.
In fact, it's in Book III where Irenaeus advances the notion of the four gospels as holy scripture as the linchpin of his argument against the gnostics. When Irenaeus referenced Proverbs chapters 8 & 22 as foretelling Christ, I smirked over learning something new. This was the first time I ever came across a Christian author who interpreted Proverbs 8 and 22 as pertaining to Christ. The culmination of Irenaeus's work was book V, which offered Irenaeus's eschatological views as it related to scripture, Christ, and the Christian life. His interpretations of Daniel and Revelation reveal a mix of what would be identified today as historicist, futurist, and idealist methods of interpretation. Irenaeus exhibited a staunch kingdom focus to his theology because he focused on the king himself.
- Printing quality: excellent. A sharp, clear font... NOT a facsimile. The layout is formatted nicely, with all the footnotes on the actual page that they are referenced.
- Content: Due to the fact that even self-proclaimed "modern Gnostics" and "Gnostic scholars" continue to reference this work, (albeit begrudgingly) shows the undeniable influence of Irenaeus.
Not negative... yet not that great:
- Cover: An interestingly textured, "waxy" softcover. It seems to be attracted to dust and the like which is annoying on an all-white book.
- The overall size and glue binding: It seems it will be sturdy enough for reference and casual reading... not being thrown around. Yet with this price, and quality of printing, it is hard to gripe about this issue. It is the size of a massive telephone directory book, for a comparison.
For what this book is, I don't readily see any.
- - - -
To those who say this book is "pro-Catholic":
There was, in the American footnotes, an anti-Catholic bias - not - derived from Irenaeus' text itself.
I'm thankful for this edition that endeavors to bring the translation to the forefront, rather than mess around with needless, added footnotes.
An explanation, from the book intro, about the removal of anti-Catholic/other useless footnotes, while retaining the helpful translation footnotes:
"The work was also very much a specimen of it's time. Not only were it's footnotes embellished by references to John Milton's 'Paradise Lost' and aphorisms of Benjamin Franklin; Bishop Coxe also sought, wherever possible, to dispute the Roman Catholic traditions and doctrines concerning the Eucharistic conversion, the papal primacy, and Marian devotion. He carried on this project through his footnotes and various appended doctrinal elucidations, most all of which have been removed from this new edition both because later scholarship has disproven them and because they occasionally served more to obfuscate that to clarify Irenaeus's meaning."
It is a very hard read but good. you should get it.