The writings in this volume cast a glimmer of light upon the emerging traditions and organization of the infant church, during an otherwise little-known period of its development. A selection of letters and small-scale theological treatises from a group known as the Apostolic Fathers, several of whom were probably disciples of the Apostles, they provide a first-hand account of the early Church and outline a form of early Christianity still drawing on the theology and traditions of its parent religion, Judaism. Included here are the first Epistle of Bishop Clement of Rome, an impassioned plea for harmony; The Epistle of Polycarp; The Epistle of Barnabas; The Didache; and the Seven Epistles written by Ignatius of Antioch among them his moving appeal to the Romans that they grant him a martyr's death.
User Ratings and Reviews
5 Stars Affordable Yet Priceless Heritage
It is debatable whether we can truly know our faith without having considered what those who have gone before us discovered. C. S. Lewis warned about generational amnesia – that is, forgetting by ignoring what previous generations have learned. The early church understanding of who Jesus was and is gives us a better sense of why we believe as we do. And it stands in stark contrast against the accusations that the church has become something far different from what it once was. The doctrines of today are developments of the seeds planted in that early church.
The Staniforth translation is crisp and readable. The Penguin Classic price is right. There is no excuse for neglecting this priceless heritage.
5 Stars Book
Every true Christian should read this. and know what the early church founding fathers Really Believed
5 Stars Needed and Useful
This book contains not only the words of the Early Church Fathers but their words are put in a modern translation that is easy to read and just better than previous English translations. You will learn a lot about what the Early Church believed and how they lived. A must read for anyone who wants to learn more about the Early Christians, Early Church.
5 Stars Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks!
1 Peter 3:15 states "…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect"
This book is a valuable resource on two fronts for the Christian that wants to learn more and defend the faith.
First, these writings give great insight to the issues and challenges confronting the nascent church. To me, the most entertaining and eye-opening of all the writings is the letter from Polycarp to the Phillipians. According to many sources, Polycarp was a student of the John the Apostle and is unwavering in defending the faith and the importance of the church maintaining its adherence to Biblical teachings….as true today as it was two thousand years ago.
Second, these writings are important for refuting the spurious claims of those that would attack the validity of the Bible. I come in contact with a number of atheists and agnostics and often hear from them that "the New Testament wasn't even written until 200-300 CE" (or AD for us traditionalists!). I can't BELIEVE how often I hear that particular piece of misinformed garbage! This book is just one of many ways to refute that claim.
Specifically, both the writings of Polycarp and Barnabas quote from the New Testament – not refer, but quote…as in word-for-word…verbatim. This is especially true for Polycarp – heck, he quotes from both the Gospels and the Epistles so much that I bet if there was a "fair-use doctrine" back in the early 100's he would have pushed the limits!
Of course, I'm exaggerating a bit but in Polycarp's letter to the Philippians there are 14 quotes from the New Testament…books that some claim were not written until 150 years after Polycarp's death!
The fact of the matter is that I just don't have enough faith to look beyond the overwhelming evidence of the validity of the New Testament..and this book is a well-organized and informative collection of a small piece of that body of evidence.
5 Stars WOW! We have writings of early trusted church pastors!
Why isn't this book on every evangelical seminary's guidebook to help us avoid many of the false teachings of the modern cults and churches? After studying in seminary and being mostly influenced by Dallas Seminary's Lewis Sperry Chafer and majority of trusted pastors of the last 150-200 years (Charles Spurgeon, Charles Swindoll, Graham, Kenneth Wuest, D.L. Moody, Matthew Henry, G.Campbell Morgan, J. Vernon Mcgee, and host of other popular writers), this is the first time I have known that we have actual writings of the early church pastors in such an easy to read guide format.
How the faithful looked at their impending martyrdom is beautifully seen in "the letter of Ignatius to the Church in Rome" and in Pastor Polycarp's martyrdom written down by the faithful for our edification. It is amazing how their view of faith included trust in Christ all the way to the end, just like John Wesley taught.
It is awesome to know that the early Church always baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity as I read in the last pages of this book, in "teachings (didache/gk) of the apostles".
It is awesome to read that worshipping Christ as God was a normal practice of faith among early Christians from the beginning and how much these trusted pastors exalted our LORD's words and life, death and resurection as the foundation for all Christians.
Surprisingly, our early church also saw great significance in the life of Christ as they saw our imitation of Christ's Perfect life to be a holy goal of every Christian every day of our lives. They did not interpret "be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is" allegorically or as pre-Grace-dispensational in any way. To them, good works of Love motivated by Faith in Christ's Perfect Life and passionate suffering at the Cross, with His victory over satan through death and Resurrection, was a much stronger emphasis of the basis for our Salvation than simply saying a "magical" 4 laws or sinner's prayer to welcome Jesus in our hearts. The early Church's view of God's Grace is clear: "By Grace you are saved, not by your own doing, but by the will of God in Christ Jesus" spoken by Polycarp, the trusted disciple of John called and appointed to lead the Church in Smyrna. However, it is also true that they took Paul's words in Galations 5 as Holy Scripture and took all of Christ's words inline with James' letter, rather than show an adverserial relationship between Christian good works and our faith in Christ. To them, Christ's calling to holiness, His perfect obedience through the pains of the cross, revealed faithful calling of the Christian to live holy lives as part of our salvation, rather than as a separate past/present/future salvation message that I have heard by majority of our teachers in the past 200 years.
I was surprised to read that John Calvin, Martin Luther, and John Wesley, honored many of these early Christian writings and always taught reading them for edification and Biblical understanding as PART of our sola scriptura belief, and they never intended that anyone should read the scriptures and privately interpret it against the writings of all these early church pastor's teachings. No wonder all Christians everywhere agreed for majority of the first 1800 years of our faith on the significance of Baptism, Holy communion and hosts of other early church practices and beliefs and none of them tried to use "saved by Grace unto good works" as beyond what the early church taught, that there are jewish cereminial laws we were freed from unto Christian good works in Love.
The view of humility in Ignatius truly is humbling against majority of our teaching in the western culture, since he would never want any believer to independent of the Apostolic Christian Church to exalt oneself above the honest teachings of the Apostles and trusted pastors of the early church.
I would highly recommend this translation. Easy to read and follow without liberal antiChristian slants from some other early church books. The print material is also easy to read unlike the glaring papers used by Meier's Eusebius edition and there is not much antiChristian antihistorical Christian bias one finds in some of the early church translations.