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The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God Hardcover – March 11, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I know that I will be rereading various chapters, as needed. Wilken's writing style is clear, ordered, thoughtful, and at times lyrical. He evidences a real love for this material.
Wilken looks at the patristic period thematically, focusing on one or two of the Fathers under each theme. Not only are we introduced, therefore, to the theology of the Fathers, but we end up getting to know a bit each of the featured Fathers.
As a Roman Catholic, Wilken of course provides a Western appraisal of the Fathers. His great love is Augustine. But he also has excellent discussions of Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Maximus the Confessor. His reading of the Fathers is truly catholic. He is eager learn from all the Fathers, whether Eastern or Western. Even when the Fathers are wrong, they have so much to teach us. More than ever, the Church of Jesus Christ needs to drink at this well and imbibe their spirit.
I would love to read a thoughtful Eastern Orthodox review of Wilken's book. In recent years I have discerned a growing anti-Augustine sentiment among Orthodox writers, with some even dismissing Augustine as heretic. Wilken, on the other hand, considers Augustine to be a giant among the Fathers. One thing I do know, after reading Wilken I am finally going to have to break down and read the City of God. :-)
The contents are as follows:
1. Founded on the Cross of Christ 2. An Awesome and Unbloody Sacrifice
3. The Face of God for Now 4. Seek His Face Always 5. Not My Will But Thine 6. The End Given in the Beginning 7. The Reasonableness of the Faith 8. Happy the People Whose God is the Lord 9. The Glorious Deeds of Christ 10. Making This Thing Other 11. Likeness to God 12. The Knowledge of Sensible Things
He writes: "The intellectual tradition that began in the early Church was enriched by the philosophical breadth and exactitude of medieval thought. Each period in Christian history makes its own unique contribution to Christian life. The Church Fathers, however, set in place a foundation that has proven to be irreplaceable. Their writings are more than a stage in the development of Christian thought or an interesting chapter in the history of the interpretation of the Bible. Like an inexhaustible spring, faithful and true, they irrigate the Christian imagination with life-giving water flowing from the biblical and spiritual sources of the faith. They are still our teachers today."
In terms of errors or just overstatements, there are few worth noting, none of which deserve to take away from the book's great worth.Read more ›
One of the most fascinating and instructive points of Professor Wilken's new book is his claim that Harnack and Co. were wrong to suppose that early Christian thought was thoroughly Hellenized by cultural osmosis. This of course has been the standard way of thinking since the mid-nineteenth century. But in fact, as Wilken's goes to pains to demonstrate, just the converse is true: Christianity dramatically influenced Hellenistic culture. It was Christianity that radically transformed the secular world, not the other way around.
Wilken demonstrates that this radical transformation of Greco-Roman culture--which was at the same time, of course, the coming-into-its-own of Christian thought--was never primarily intellectualistic. Christianity is a religion, not a philosophy. It stresses love, compassion, service in the world, and worship, and these elements define the parameters and shape the content of early Christian thought. Wilken works through this claim by examining, chapter by chapter, how the early Christians viewed (for example) worship, the Resurrection, the Trinity, the Passion, and so on.Read more ›
That being said, the book is a good read. It flows well, and is enjoyable. Technical terms (usually Greek or Latin words) are explained and used in useful ways. The book contains a good amount of information, yet is presented in an understandable way and is made easy to remember. It isn't just another book on early church history--it traces other things like poetry, etc.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well organized and clean distilled truth of early church history. Part of my Ph.D. program. Highly recommend.Published 4 months ago by Mark V. Eberhard
Liked the writing style, but, unfortunately, as another reviewer pointed out, "It all seems to be an apologetic for Roman Catholicism." Threw in the towel at that point.Published 8 months ago by Jim Haugen
I have read many books concerning church history and about the theology of the Patristics. Yet, I find Wilken's book one of the best in style, content and doing justice to the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Abraham Paniagua
This book is not a polemic or a book of apologetics; it is instead an exposition of what early Church theologians thought about important topics in Christian belief, and how those... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Adam Wayne
Wilken’s book is neither a history per se nor a systematization of early Christian thought; rather, its purpose is to “depict the pattern of Christian thinking as it took shape in... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Jonathan
This book was so bad I could not even finish. This book may seem like a great book on early Christian thought unless you know anything about church History. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Ecc3_15