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This selection of writings from early church leaders includes work by Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Athenagoras and Justin Martyr. Long recognized for the quality of its translations, introductions, explanatory notes, and indexes, the Library of Christian Classics provides scholars and students with modern English translations of some of the most This selection of writings from early church leaders includes work by Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Athenagoras and Justin Martyr. Long recognized for the quality of its translations, introductions, explanatory notes, and indexes, the Library of Christian Classics provides scholars and students with modern English translations of some of the most significant Christian theological texts in history. Through these works--each written prior to the end of the sixteenth century--contemporary readers are able to engage the ideas that have shaped Christian theology and the church through the centuries.


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This selection of writings from early church leaders includes work by Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Athenagoras and Justin Martyr. Long recognized for the quality of its translations, introductions, explanatory notes, and indexes, the Library of Christian Classics provides scholars and students with modern English translations of some of the most This selection of writings from early church leaders includes work by Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Athenagoras and Justin Martyr. Long recognized for the quality of its translations, introductions, explanatory notes, and indexes, the Library of Christian Classics provides scholars and students with modern English translations of some of the most significant Christian theological texts in history. Through these works--each written prior to the end of the sixteenth century--contemporary readers are able to engage the ideas that have shaped Christian theology and the church through the centuries.

30 review for Early Christian Fathers (Library of Christian Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Cyril Charles Richardson was my first church history teacher, covering in his course the period covered by his anthology of early patristics, ca. 90-200 C.E. At the time he was the eldest member of the faculty of Union Theological Seminary, having been called back to teach after retirement owing to that phase of the school's characteristic budget crisis. He certainly seemed the eldest, his English accent and old world manners accentuating his august, yet approachable presence. On the day of his Cyril Charles Richardson was my first church history teacher, covering in his course the period covered by his anthology of early patristics, ca. 90-200 C.E. At the time he was the eldest member of the faculty of Union Theological Seminary, having been called back to teach after retirement owing to that phase of the school's characteristic budget crisis. He certainly seemed the eldest, his English accent and old world manners accentuating his august, yet approachable presence. On the day of his last lecture, just prior to his death, his wife attended and the entire class rose in standing ovation to this monument of scholarship. A few months later we, and many others, were in the episcopal cathedral of New York to attend his memorial service. Richardson's popularity was not entirely based on his manner, or his scholarship. He was, very early on, an exponent for the ordination of women as is indicated by this article in Time Magazine of 12/31/51: "What the Christian church needs is some priestesses, says the Rev. Cyril C. Richardson, professor of church history at Union Theological Seminary. In the current issue of Christianity & Crisis, Episcopalian Richardson argues that through priestesses 'the motherhood of the church can be given unique expression.' "The old theological argument against such a thing, says Richardson, is 'that women are incapable of Holy Order because they are in a state of subjection by nature. According to Aquinas, their subjection to men is due to the fact that "in man the discretion of reason predominates."' But Richardson reasons that a Christian virtue superior to reason is agape (brotherly love), 'a virtue which unites masculine and feminine... Hence, from a Christian point of view...neither the masculine society nor matriarchy is theologically sound. Only the society in which male & female are complementary to each other—not equal in the sense of being identical, but equal in the sense that neither has priority—is the true Christian society.' "Richardson acknowledges that the main problem is determining just what the special functions of a priestess should be. He thinks she should both preach and celebrate the sacraments, concentrating on 'the feminine aspect of the Word, the sacraments and pastoral care.' This does not mean just women preaching to women: 'Men need the ministry of women no less than women need the ministry of men. Or rather, each sex needs the ministry of both sexes in order that the principles of fatherhood and motherhood may be fully expressed in the church.'" He was also, I should add, approachable, having helped direct me in some of my researches about early gnosticism.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Delightful. Athenagoras and Irenaeus were particularly interesting, the former mocking the Roman pagans and the latter the gnostic. the former with explicit Platonic comments and the latter implicitly non-platonic. Favorite quote: Polycarp himself, when Marcion once met him and said, "do you know us?" answered, "I know you, the first-born of Satan." LCC, vol 1, Irenaeus, pg 374

  3. 4 out of 5

    Argin Gerigorian

    This week I went though an introductory work on the patristic fathers by Cyril Richardson and it was the best! A must read for anyone interested in the works of the early fathers and that in its proper context. In my opinion this unabridged, one-volume, 350 page book is the best introductory piece out. Richardson goes through each of the early fathers beginning with (Clement of Rome, Igantius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, the Didache Athenagoras, Diognetius, and Ireneaus), gives brief background This week I went though an introductory work on the patristic fathers by Cyril Richardson and it was the best! A must read for anyone interested in the works of the early fathers and that in its proper context. In my opinion this unabridged, one-volume, 350 page book is the best introductory piece out. Richardson goes through each of the early fathers beginning with (Clement of Rome, Igantius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, the Didache Athenagoras, Diognetius, and Ireneaus), gives brief background information including dates and context in which they were written and then presents the actual writings with footnote commentary. Richardson also has a section before each chapter devoted to scholarly resources. There a many great things to learn from this book and we get to see how the church survived attack after attack from both the state, Jews, and heretics. The main theme that stood out to me was the emphasis on obeying our bishops, presbytery and deacons (pg. 20, 62, 88, 95, 98, 115, etc) and the central theme of the unity of the church. Another interesting point is that many of the letters were addressed to the magistrate and were treatises on why the magistrate should recognize Christianity as a viable religion and defenses on the philosophical truisms in Christianity. Also many of them had to defend caricatures being placed on them by others so that they can persecute them some being “atheists, cannibals, and incest perpetrators. I think Christians would do well to write to their magistrates to giving a defense on certain issues that the early fathers didn’t have to battle. Here are some of the quotes that I loved: [Concerning early Christianity and the missionary activities] “The spread of the new [Christian] faith naturally followed the great trade routes and was centered in the cities” –Richardson, Early Christian Fathers, pg. 20 [in speaking about the OT prophets Ignatius writes:] “The divine prophets themselves lived Christ Jesus’ way. That is why they were persecuted, for they were inspired by his grace to convince unbelievers that God is one, and that he has revealed himself in his Son Jesus Christ, who is his Word issuing from the silence and who won the complete approval of him who sent him” to the Magnesians 8:1 [The infamous Polycarp trial] “But the proconsul was insistent and said: “Take the oath, and I shall release you. Curse Christ.” Polycarp said: “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?… And again [he said] to him, “I shall have you consumed with fire, if you despise the wild beasts, unless you change your mind.” But Polycarp said: “The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little; for you do not know the fire of the coming judgment and everlasting punishment that is laid up for the impious. But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.”"- Letter of the Church of Smyrna to the Church of Philomeliu, Richardson, ECF, pg. 112-113 [In the Didache or the Teaching there are multiple ethical commands based off the Old Testament code which are not found in the New Testament, thus the ethics of the Early Church was theonomic because they wanted a fully orbed view on ethics] “The second commandment of the Teaching: “Do not murder; do not commit adultery”; do not corrupt boys; do not fornicate; “do not steal”; do not practice magic; do not go in for sorcery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a new-born infant. “Do not covet your neighbor’s property; do not commit perjury; do not bear false witness”;483 do not slander; do not bear grudges. Do not be double-minded or double-tongued, for a double tongue is “a deadly snare.”484Your words shall not be dishonest or hollow, but substantiated by action. Do not be greedy or extortionate or hypocritical or malicious or arrogant. Do not plot against your neighbor. Do not hate anybody; but reprove some, pray for others, and still others love more than your own life.” –Richardson, pg. 125 (Taken from Didache) [Some superstition is definitely present in the document but we also see that baptism doesn’t necessarily have to be done via immersion as Baptist claim.] “Now about baptism: this is how to baptize. Give public instruction on all these points, and then “baptize” in running water, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” If you do not have running water, baptize in some other. If you cannot in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Before the baptism, moreover, the one who baptizes and the one being baptized must fast, and any others who can. And you must tell the one being baptized to fast for one or two days beforehand.” –Ricahrdson, pg. 127 (taken from Didache) [on monergistic regeneration and salvation] “For he took pity on us and in his tenderness saved us, since he saw our great error and ruin, and that we had no hope of salvation unless it came from him. For he called us when we were nothing, and willed our existence from nothing…Thus it was that the Christ willed to save what was perishing; and he saved many when he came and called us who were actually perishing” –Anonymous sermon, commonly called Clements’ second epistle, Richardson, pg. 138 [On the righteousness of Christ being necessary for our justification; granted they haven’t formed a category distinction between active and passive] “For what else could cover our sins except his righteousness? In whom could we, lawless and impious as we were, be made righteous except in the Son of God alone? O sweetest exchange! O unfathomable work of God! O blessings beyond all expectation! The sinfulness of many is hidden in the Righteous One, while the righteousness of the One justifies the many that are sinners” –Epistle to Diognetus 9:4,5 from Richardson, pg. 157 The main theme of the First Apology of Justin Martyr is “by more detailed exposition of Old Testament texts, to show that Christians are the true heirs of the promises made to Israel” –Richardson, pg. 164 [On Sunday Sabbath] “We all hold this common gathering on Sunday, since it is the first day, on which God transforming darkness and matter made the universe, and Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead on the same day.” –Justin First Apology, from Richardson, pg. 200 Overall this was an amazing book and I gave it a 5/5 stars! Find the book on Amazon by clicking the picture or get the free PDF version from CCEL.org>> http://www.ccel.org/ccel/richardson/f...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Zach Hedges

    A solid collection of primary sources from the early church, including selections from the Apostolic Fathers, Apologists, and Irenaeus. Each inclusion also features a helpful introduction and overview of available editions, translations, and scholarly treatments (though much of this information is now significantly dated).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Humphrey

    As far as this collection is concerned, it would've been nice if it had included a couple more of the super-important early texts like Shepherd of Hermas. But on the whole this is a nice, affordable collection that includes some real treasures of the early church (Clement's Epistle and the Epistle to Diognetus being my favorite among them).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Henschel

    Ok, I didn’t read this book cover to cover. I’ve only read chunks of it for a class. However, it’s a very nice collection of primary patristic sources, including Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, and Justin Martyr.

  7. 5 out of 5

    MpaulM

    Every Christian should read this book along with the Bible. It explains a lot about what the early church had to deal with, (particularity from 90-150 AD).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Justin Rose

    A valuable resource.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Logan Bennett

    Really helpful book. Gives brief overviews of the primary sources (Clement, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, etc.) before each letter or work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David

    Dry. But given the content there was no way around that. This was a textbook for a class I took at UM St. Louis several years ago, of which I only read the selected portions of (Polycarp's martyrdom, the Didache, and a few others that were required for the class). I picked it up to read during my time in the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at St. Ferdinand on Monday nights. It was a great book to reflect upon in the quiet repose of the Chapel, because it gave me some insights into the early beliefs of Dry. But given the content there was no way around that. This was a textbook for a class I took at UM St. Louis several years ago, of which I only read the selected portions of (Polycarp's martyrdom, the Didache, and a few others that were required for the class). I picked it up to read during my time in the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at St. Ferdinand on Monday nights. It was a great book to reflect upon in the quiet repose of the Chapel, because it gave me some insights into the early beliefs of the membership of the Church; the divisions, the conflicts, the challenges of survival of not just the religion but the people practicing it. I began to consider all the problems with society's view of faith--an arcane institution not well-suited to the hustle and bustle of the "me generation." Teaching benevolence, tolerance, patience, forgiveness, love, all were important components of the early faith and were taught by its most ardent defenders and leaders. Society thirst for these things now, yet we reject faith as an appropriate or acceptable vehicle to deliver these things, when in fact faith--or more importantly BELIEF--in something greater than the self is required if we are to survive as a civilized people governed by justice and equitablity.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Seifert

    The texts of the early church fathers are a must for critical thinking for understanding the church prior to Constantine, when in my estimation the church went sour. Of course there have always been those who have committed themselves to the reality that "Jesus is Lord" over and against the prevailing Empire. Even today living in an American Empire with the predominate "Christian" holding co-allegiance, a mixture of clay and iron ("christian" and nation-state) [see Didache, The "two Ways"], The texts of the early church fathers are a must for critical thinking for understanding the church prior to Constantine, when in my estimation the church went sour. Of course there have always been those who have committed themselves to the reality that "Jesus is Lord" over and against the prevailing Empire. Even today living in an American Empire with the predominate "Christian" holding co-allegiance, a mixture of clay and iron ("christian" and nation-state) [see Didache, The "two Ways"], these sources inform those who seek to be faithful and follow the fully-human one and the Way and cultivate practices that are sustained by virtues which make it possible to overcome adversity from the wider world of powers which appear as illusions, temptations, dangers, hardships, and distractions [see "Letters in Crisis"]. In the words of the editor, "The dominant interest of the second century Church was the ordering of its life and teaching . . . to preserve the Apostolic witness . . . to maintain it against persecution . . . to ensure perpetuity of the faith, the church built up a closely knit organization which was uncompromising toward heresy and schism as it was toward the demands of the State." - Cyril C. Richardson, TH.D, D.D.

  12. 4 out of 5

    G Walker

    This is a good little volume to introduce the contemporary Christian to the thoughts of the venerable dead. Sadly this says more by way of criticism of the church today than it does about the volume itself. the volume itself is actually very inadequate by way of introduction etc. That said, because most people are blissfully ignorant of the church fathers and won't exert even the simplest of efforts to read a little more by the fathers, then this volume becomes necessary. Sooo, kudos to Mr. This is a good little volume to introduce the contemporary Christian to the thoughts of the venerable dead. Sadly this says more by way of criticism of the church today than it does about the volume itself. the volume itself is actually very inadequate by way of introduction etc. That said, because most people are blissfully ignorant of the church fathers and won't exert even the simplest of efforts to read a little more by the fathers, then this volume becomes necessary. Sooo, kudos to Mr. Richardson for putting all this together - but Shame Shame Shame on us for being so continuously lazy and negligent of our spiritual heritage. Go buy this volume, share it with your family, or maybe a high-schooler or early college student in your church, but if you are in seminary and this is one of your primary texts, then shame on your prof and shame on you IF you don't go buy more patristic primary sources... and by that I mean actually, comprehensive primary sources, not just other readers. That said, much better than the series put out by Augsburg/Fortress in this vein.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Current

    Read and Re-read. Cyril Richardson does an excellent job at introducing each of these early church writings. He covers the content, setting, individual, textual challenges, etc. of each piece. The footnotes during the actual texts are helpful as well. As for the early church works themselves, amazingly helpful. I was surprised at how easy they are to understand. It gave me a deep sense of connection with the historical church seeing that Christ followers have always believed in, hoped for, and Read and Re-read. Cyril Richardson does an excellent job at introducing each of these early church writings. He covers the content, setting, individual, textual challenges, etc. of each piece. The footnotes during the actual texts are helpful as well. As for the early church works themselves, amazingly helpful. I was surprised at how easy they are to understand. It gave me a deep sense of connection with the historical church seeing that Christ followers have always believed in, hoped for, and defended the same truth. The faith once delivered comes through loud and clear in their writings. It is also effective in stirring up to love and good deeds to read of their devotion and zeal for Christ and his people. There is an intensity in these writings that is so often lacking in our own lives and churches. Having Richardson hold one's hand through these writings leaves the reader prepared to continue to tackle early church writings by themselves.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This book gives very readable translations of most of the 2nd-century's most important Christian documents (the earliest writings of the outside of the New Testament). In fact, a couple of the documents may even slip into the late 1st century. It's a fascinating look at theology, church politics, and the current events that were being dealt with by the early church. The introductions to the pieces are excellent, giving clear commentary on the historical background of each piece of literature This book gives very readable translations of most of the 2nd-century's most important Christian documents (the earliest writings of the outside of the New Testament). In fact, a couple of the documents may even slip into the late 1st century. It's a fascinating look at theology, church politics, and the current events that were being dealt with by the early church. The introductions to the pieces are excellent, giving clear commentary on the historical background of each piece of literature without trying to push a single interpretation of dating or authorship. My only disappointment was the lack of inclusion of Shepherd of Hermas. As early, unique, and influential as that writing was, it really deserved a place here. Otherwise the selected material wonderfully covers the spectrum of Christian writing that we know of from that era.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Linkous

    Great collection of writings from the early church including the Didache, Letters from Ignatius, The Martyrdom of Polycarp and selections from Justin's First Apology and Irenaeus' Against Heresies. The book could use an updated format and font, but it really gives you a good glimpse into the life of the early church and the apologetic style used against Gnostics. Note: I only read one introduction, which was pretty good. Other than that, I only read the primary source text.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Reading the Church Fathers was enjoyable and worth while

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jay D

    A good alternate translation to the Schaff Set.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    A great collection of early Christian writing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    It's really dense, but good.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jackson

    Several documents by the earliest writers of the Christian faith. Another must-read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Meckel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael DeBusk

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stanley Harder

  25. 4 out of 5

    bon

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dan Scott

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robert Clifton Robinson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eric Dryfka

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jacquie Hall

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